Lance McCord, flickr.com

The government shutdown may allow the flu to sneak up on us as the season begins. The Centers for Disease Control’s flu tracking program is on hold because of the shutdown and employee furloughs.

“We can’t determine where the trends are in terms of flu cases throughout the United States,” Dallas County Health Department director Zach Thompson said.  ”So, it’s incumbent on everyone now to get the flu shot. Especially if you plan on traveling throughout the United States for the holiday season.”

Thompson says holiday travelers often bring back the flu.  He says cases usually spike after New Year’s. And people need to get flu shots now, before they hit the holiday gatherings.

According to officials at Dallas County Health and Human Services, there’s plenty of vaccine early in the flu season.

  •           This year’s flu vaccine is an all-in-one inoculation that offers protection against multiple flu strains including the H1N1 virus.
  •           The flu vaccine is recommended for almost everyone except children younger than 6 months and people who have severe allergies to eggs.
  •           It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop and provide protection against the flu virus infection.
  •           At Dallas County Health and Human Services,  flu shots are  free for individuals eligible for Texas Vaccines for Children (TVFC). A adult vaccine is $20; free for Medicare recipients.
  •          Dallas County Clinic Hours:  2377 North Stemmons Freeway, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday – Friday.

Tarrant County Public Health offers flu shots at six clinics; $20 for adults.  Shots are als

Flu season starts in October and runs through May.  February is considered the peak month.

Find out how much you know about the flu.  Take the Centers for Disease Control’s Flu Quiz.