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Travis County sees early, active flu season as case rates triple in days

Travis County’s flu positivity rate was almost 33% for the week ending Oct. 8. Traditionally, it’s less than 1% this time of year.

AUSTIN, Texas — An active flu season is already underway in Travis County, with the case positivity rate tripling in recent days, according to Austin Public Health.

The department said emergency departments have been inundated with children suffering from symptoms of flu-like illnesses.

"Dell Children's Medical Center, part of Ascension Seton, and St. David’s Children's Hospital are currently experiencing a greater number of patients in pediatric emergency departments," APH and local health care facilities Ascension Seton and St. David’s HealthCare said in a joint statement on Saturday. “We are seeing a spike in respiratory illnesses among children, not just in Central Texas, but nationwide. Many children experiencing symptoms consistent with upper respiratory illness can receive care at a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic. Having the capacity to safely care for all patients is essential to providing ongoing health care services to our community, and we are asking for the community’s help.”

The health care providers said if a child has flu-like symptoms, parents should call their doctor or take their child to an urgent care clinic. If they are having trouble breathing or have some other type of related emergent condition, they should go to an emergency department.

RELATED: Respiratory illnesses on the rise, especially in children

Travis County’s flu positivity rate was almost 33% for the week ending Oct. 8. The previous week it was 11%. Traditionally, it’s less than 1% this time of year.

APH recommends vaccination and other preventative measures to help prevent serious illness.  

“It's critical that everyone get a flu shot if they haven’t done so already,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County health authority. “The numbers we’re seeing are really concerning. Flu shots can help prevent serious illness and protect friends and family who are at high risk for poor outcomes.”

Everyone 6 months or  older is eligible for flu and COVID-19 vaccines, and they can be given at the same time. APH offers both at Shots for Tots/Big Shots and most pop-up clinics.

Visit Vaccines.gov (Vacunas.gov in Spanish) to find flu and COVID-19 vaccine providers near you.


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