(Austin) – Up to 90 people a day with flu-like symptoms have sought care at Central Health-funded CommUnityCare Health Centers in Travis County since mid-December and more than half have been diagnosed with influenza ⎯ and the flu outbreak may not have peaked yet.
Central Health funds 19 CommUnityCare Health Centers in Travis County. In November, CommUnityCare diagnosed 102 patients with flu. In December that number increased to more than 300. The increase mirrors what’s happening across the U.S., where 46 states including Texas are reporting widespread flu activity. So far seven people in Travis County have died from the flu since last fall, and all were over the age of 50 according to Austin Public Health.
“If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible,” said Dr. Brendan De Marco, Associate Director of Infection Control for CommUnityCare Health Centers. “With a flu diagnosis, there are medications to treat the flu that will help symptoms go away faster, lessen the severity of the illness and result in fewer complications.”
Dr. De Marco says medications are most effective if started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, and he reminds people it’s not too late to get a flu shot. “A flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the flu. Even though the vaccine isn’t as effective this season as it has been in the past, it helps your body to create protective antibodies protects against other strains of the flu,” said De Marco.
Help for the Uninsured
Central Health and CommUnityCare remind Travis County residents that lack of insurance should never be a barrier to seeking care. “If someone has flu symptoms but doesn’t have insurance, they can still come to a CommUnityCare clinic and be seen,” said Jaeson Fournier, CommUnityCare CEO. “We have two walk-in clinics – no appointment needed.” CommUnityCare Hancock (1000 E. 41st Street, Ste. 925) and CommUnityCare William Cannon (6801 S. IH35, #1-E Austin) are designed to deliver same-day care.
In addition to CommUnityCare clinics, Central Health Medical Access Program (MAP) members can also visit 19 RediClinics at select H-E-B and H-E-B plus! Stores in Austin, and FastMed Urgent Care clinics throughout Travis County.
Central Health’s MAP helps Travis County residents with low-income and no insurance get health care. Both FastMed Urgent Care and RediClinics are open seven days a week, with extended evening hours on weekdays.
“We strive to ensure every person in Travis County has access to quality health care, no matter where they live, how much money they make, or where they’re from,” said Mike Geeslin, President and CEO of Central Health. “If someone in Travis County gets the flu, the last thing they should worry about is whether they can afford to see a doctor. People in our Medical Access Program should know help is available.”
To find the nearest RediClinic or FastMed, MAP clients should visit www.medicalaccessprogram.net. To find the nearest CommUnityCare Health Center, visit http://communitycaretx.org/locations
About the Flu
Common flu symptoms include, fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, cough, shortness of breath and sore throat.
Preventing the Spread of the Flu
• Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently and after you cough, sneeze or blow your nose
• Stay home if you are sick and stay away from the very young, very old or very sick people if possible to reduce the risk of passing the flu on to them
• Keep your hands away from your nose and mouth – if you touch your face you may help germs get inside.
• Cover your cough with your elbow or a handkerchief so you don’t spread the flu or other viruses to others.
See and share Central Health’s Flu Facts videos here.