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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas Encourages Consumers to Consider Flu Vaccine, Consult their Doctor

Jan. 10, 2013

Richardson and Austin, TX — As influenza activity continues to increase, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) urges those who have not yet gotten a flu vaccine to do so. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), most of the country is now experiencing high levels of influenza-like-illness. As of the week ending Dec. 29, 2,257 people had been hospitalized with the flu, and 18 children had died from complications of the illness. In Texas, nearly 25 percent of people with influenza like illness test positive for the flu .

According to the CDC, the symptoms of the flu can include the following: fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness. Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.

The emergency room should be only be used for people who have the following emergency warning signs of flu sickness:

In children
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, not waking up or not interacting, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held, flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough, fever with a rash
  • In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:
  • Being unable to eat, has trouble breathing, has no tears when crying, significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
In adults
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

If you think you have the flu, or have questions, call your health care provider. For additional information and helpful resources, you may call one of the BCBSTX nurses at 866-412-8795.

"Vaccination is the best protection," says Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer of BCBSTX. "It is still a good idea to get a flu vaccine, and it is always wise to practice good health hygiene - avoid those who are coughing, wash your hands frequently, cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home if you are mildly sick, and see your doctor if you are very ill."

As part of our commitment to disease prevention and management to stop illness before it occurs, BCBSTX sponsors the Care Van program to provide flu vaccinations, among other vaccinations, for adults and children. The Care Vans complement traditional clinics by making care easily accessible for children and families. Care Vans visit schools, health centers, health fairs, public housing and other locations throughout the community. (Schedules can be found at http://www.carevan.org/neighborhood.htm ). People can also get the flu vaccine at doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as through many employers and schools.

The CDC recommends the following everyday preventive action steps that people can take to slow the spread of the flu and other respiratory illnesses:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. This will block the spread of droplets from your mouth or nose that could contain germs.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you or your child gets sick with a respiratory illness, like flu, limit contact with others as much as possible to help prevent spreading illness. Stay home (or keep your child home) for at least 24 hours after fever is gone except to seek medical care or for other necessities. Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
  • If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, follow public health advice. This may include information about how to increase distance between people and other measures.

View 2013 News Releases