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Southeast Texas health officials stress importance of vaccines to avoid flu, COVID-19

They say peak flu season usually falls between late November and the end of January, but it's never too early to get your flu shot and be protected.

PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Health officials are recommending people roll up their sleeves for the flu vaccine.

Southeast Texas health officials say peak flu season usually falls between late November and the end of January, but it's never too early to get your flu shot and be protected.

Kristen Voivedich with the Medical Center of Southeast Texas said they've already been giving flu shots to their staff. She said flu cases are low right now, but that could change if Southeast Texans let their guard down.

"We encourage vaccination earlier than later in the season to prevent it sooner, and to prevent complications with possibly COVID as well," Voivedich said.

Voivedich said flu season during a pandemic presents its own challenges.

But she said thanks to masks and people getting their flu shots, we barely had any flu cases last season.

She said this could be the recipe for success once again.

"People need to realize that flu is still around. Obviously, COVID is still around, so getting those two vaccines, continuing to wear your mask out in public will help prevent the spread of both of those in our community," Voivedich said.

Port Arthur Health Director Judith Smith said they've already had two drive-in flu vaccine clinics over the past two weeks.

She said a number of people have come by to get both their COVID-19 shot and flu shot, which she said is promising.

"We brought 100 doses out here,” Smith said. “We've done quite a few. I want to think maybe about 30, 40 individuals that have taken the vaccine."

Smith said since the CDC recently said it is OK to give both the COVID-19 and flu shot at the same time, they've been giving people both shots at the same time, and she said no one has reported any additional adverse reactions.

Smith said she's especially concerned about children under the age of 12 who haven't been vaccinated as we enter into flu season.

"Some of the symptoms are generally the same, and we just would hate to have two things going on at the same time. Flu and COVID," Smith said.

Voivedich agrees and urges parents to stick to the basics to keep their kids safe.

"Washing their hands. Wearing their masks. And obviously getting the flu vaccination because they can get that at a very young age," Voivedich said.

Smith said the Port Arthur Health Department will soon be heading out in the community to offer flu shots to anyone who needs one and will also offer them at the health department.

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