I like tracking how the seasonal flu is impacting the USA because it’s a more dangerous disease than most Americans think — Texas and other southern states have been hit hard early into this flu season. About 12,000-52,000 people die each year in the USA on average. It’s not at COVID-19 levels, but it’s generally the most dangerous infectious disease that hits the world each year.
Of course, there is a vaccine for that, though flu vaccine uptake is much lower than other vaccines.
Let’s take a look at where the flu has been particularly bad, especially in Texas.
Texas flu situation
Walgreens, the large drugstore chain, publishes data on anti-viral medications prescribed for flu as a good proxy for flu levels in a particular geographic region or city. According to their data, the flu season has been particularly hard on these Texas cities:
- Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, TX
- Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX
- El Paso, TX
- Corpus Christi, TX
- Houston, TX
Other cities, outside of Texas, which have also been particularly hard hit are:
- San Juan, PR
- Las Cruces, NM
- New Orleans, LA
- Columbus-Tupelo-West Point-Houston, MS
- Honolulu, HI
- Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL
From a more general clinical perspective, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes weekly “Influenza Surveillance Reports.” As of 6 October 2023, the CDC reports:
- Nationally, 444 (1%) positive specimens reported last week. This is early in the flu season (which starts generally on 1 October), so the numbers will be low.
- 1,040 patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza were admitted to a hospital.
- 11 additional influenza-related deaths were reported last week.
If you live in these cities in Texas along with other cities that have been hit hard, you should really consider getting the flu vaccine. The flu is not a trivial disease, it is deadly and can be debilitating for a week or more.
People often confuse the flu with a common cold — they are two different diseases with different symptoms and different complications. The common cold is easy to handle, but the flu is not.
And just to be clear, the flu vaccine will not give you the flu, it will not harm you, and it is not filled with nanobots.
The flu vaccine saves lives.
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