Patients snatching up free vaccines as flu season drags on

Hays County Health Department offers free vaccines Tuesday afternoon. (KXAN photo)
Hays County Health Department offers free vaccines Tuesday afternoon. (KXAN photo)

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — With no signs indicating we’re nearing the end of the flu season, Hays County is offering free flu shots to anyone who wants them.

“It was terrible, I wore a mask for five days, I couldn’t be near anyone,” said Sylvia Wilke, who was diagnosed with strain A of the flu a few weeks ago. “It was bad.”

Wilke was one of the people who showed up at the Hays County Health Center on Tuesday to get her free flu shot even though she already got the flu. After her experience, he’s not taking any chances because doctors say there is a possibility a person could get the flu twice.

“There’s no sign of the flu numbers dropping anytime soon,” said Hays County epidemiologist Eric Schneider. “This is the worst flu season we’ve had for my records.”

During the first hour of the free clinic, 31 people showed up.

Schneider says it takes at least two weeks for the vaccine to work. He says although it’s late to be getting a flu shot, it’s not too late to receive some of its benefits, especially if the flu season lasts another six weeks, which is what experts are saying.

“Even though this vaccine doesn’t cover the main strain that has been affecting everyone, getting the flu shot will still give you the antibodies to be able to fight off the flu faster. It will lessen your symptoms and you’ll get over it a lot faster,” said Schneider.

Schneider says he’s been seeing around 400 positive flu cases come across his desk every week. With the numbers continuing to climb and the state offering up free flu vaccines to the Hays County Health Department, he says it was an easy decision to turn around and offer the flu shots free of charge to the community.

“We know there are many people out there who don’t have access to health care or people who have put it off because they have to choose other expenses over getting a vaccination,” said Schneider.

Schneider’s hope is that by removing the price tag, the county helps slow down the spreading virus.

The county will be offering another chance for free flu shots on Wednesday, Feb. 14, at the St. John Catholic Church in San Marcos from noon to 5 p.m. The shot is offered to anyone over the age of four with a special dose available to those over 65. The county says no proof of insurance or ID is required.

In Hays County, one person has died from the flu, whereas in Travis County, the number now sits at 37 — the most flu-related deaths the county has seen in more than a decade.

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