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Brazos County Health District provides an update on COVID-19 and the Flu

Published: Oct. 2, 2021 at 12:22 AM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -As we continue to grapple with COVID 19, the flu season is rapidly approaching. Officials with the Brazos County Health District are stressing the importance of protecting yourself and your family.

Brazos County Health Authority Dr. Seth Sullivan says vaccination continues to be the most effective way against preventing severe illness and death.

Flu Cases across the country and the Brazos Valley declined drastically last year, which has health officials concerned about this year’s flu season. Sullivan says stay-at-home orders combined with social distancing and other preventative measures helped slow the spread of the flu and the coronavirus. Sullivan says it’s essential to do everything possible to prevent any type of illness to reduce the strain on our healthcare system. Sullivan says it’s vital that we not ignore the flu.

“We have to remember that between thirty and sixty thousand people a year in the United States die of influenza-related illness, and there are some years that are much worse than others,” said Sullivan. “The flu is certainly something that keeps us out of work and gets us very very sick, so anything we can do to avoid influenza is advisable.”

Recently the Brazos County Health District began administering COVID-19 booster shots to eligible residents as advised by the FDA and CDC. Dr. Sullivan is urging everyone eligible to get a booster shot to do so when the time comes. Sullivan also says it’s essential for people to know that booster shots are nothing new. He says many vaccines that people already take require additional doses. Sullivan says booster shots are vital as they are designed to increase protection against getting critically ill or dying from the disease.

Currently, booster shots are only available for those who have received the Pfizer vaccine and those at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 or immunocompromised.

“There are a lot of vaccinations that we give three shots on, and this very well maybe one of them,” said Sullivan. “Much of the world has already moved forward doing this as we saw in Israel, and other countries as well have started to do this, so I think that we’ll see three shots being used.”

Sullivan is optimistic about the flu season and the pandemic. He says we appear to be turning the corner, but he would like to see the Brazos Valley vaccination rates higher. Currently, only 46 percent of Brazos County residents are fully vaccinated. He says that has to change in order to reduce the strain on hospitals and medical professionals.

”Our hospitals have been very busy. We have been at a real challenge with staffing our hospitals here,” said Sullivan. " We’ve had to get help from outside personnel to come in and help us with our patients, and it’s been tough. This has been tough.”

Sullivan says as more therapeutics and antibody treatments become available and are administered, he’s hopeful we can get one step closer to reducing hospitalizations.

According to the State Vaccine Dashboard, 1,896 Brazos County residents have already received a COVID-19 booster shot.

Those eligible for a booster are:

  • Residents of long-term care facilities who are age 18 and older
  • People age 65 and older
  • People ages 18-64 years old with underlying medical conditions
  • People ages 18-64 whose work or living situation increases their risk of exposure or transmission such as health care providers, teachers, etc.

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