Last December, the county had received 15 cases of confirmed flu tests. As of Dec. 29, 2017, 244 residents had the flu virus, according to Eric Schneider, an epidemiologist with the Hays County Local Health Department.
He said higher numbers are anticipated in January and February of this year.
In a news release Dec. 29, Schneider said residents can still get a flu shot to help prevent getting the virus.
He said this year's flu shot is 10 percent more effective than last year's, although getting a flu shot does not guarantee protection against the flu.
Influenza activity typically peaks between December and February, and with flu season in full swing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months and older receives a vaccine.
There are two main flu vaccines available this season: Trivalent (three component) and quadrivalent (four component).
- Trivalent flu vaccines include standard-dose trivalent shots (IIV3) for persons aged 18-64 years, a high-dose trivalent shot for persons 65 years and older, an egg-free recombinant trivalent shot for people age 18 and older and a new trivalent shot that helps create a stronger immune response for people age 65 and older.
- Quadrivalent flu vaccines include the intradermal shot approved for people 18-64 years, a quadrivalent flu shot made with viruses approved for people 4 years and older and a recombinant quadrivalent shot that is new this season and approved for people age 18 and older.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.
Schneider offered other tips for preventing the flu, including regularly washing your hands with soap and warm water, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home from school or work if you feel sick.
Additional reporting by Rebecca Hennes.