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Health experts urge Texans to get vaccinated ahead of flu season resurgence

A person is getting the flu shot in their arm.
Doctors are encouraging people to get flu shots because of large crowds and fewer people masking.

The Texas Medical Association is urging people to get flu shots due to concerns flu season could be worse this year with fewer people masking and crowds gathering again.

Texas medical experts are warning about a resurgence of influenza this winter after a relatively dormant year during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Flu is overdue right now,” said Dr. Donald Murphey, an Austin pediatric infectious disease specialist and chair of the Texas Medical Association (TMA) Council on Science and Public Health.

“We should be concerned about flu returning. Flu is here every year consistently and last year, with mitigation for COVID, we didn't have a flu season at all."

Murphey explained this year’s flu season could even be worse than usual as an overall decline in coronavirus cases is expected to lead to an increase in public gatherings during the holidays with fewer people wearing masks.

"Viruses don't stay away for very long. They are looking for susceptible hosts to spread in and we should have a normal flu season," Murphey said. "We may even have a worse than normal flu season."

The flu poses the most serious risk to Texas’ youngest and oldest residents, as well as people with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or cancer. According to TMA, most flu-related hospitalizations and up to 85% of flu-related deaths occur in people over 65 years old.

The Texas Medical Association is encouraging flu shots for everyone 6 months of age and older, as vaccinations are still the best way to prevent hospitalizations and save lives. TMA says people can safely get vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

Joseph Leahy anchors morning newscasts for NPR's statewide public radio collaborative, Texas Newsroom. He began his career in broadcast journalism as a reporter for St. Louis Public Radio in 2011. The following year, he helped launch Delaware's first NPR station, WDDE, as an afternoon newscaster and host. Leahy returned to St. Louis in 2013 to anchor local newscasts during All Things Considered and produce news on local and regional issues. In 2016, he took on a similar role as the local Morning Edition newscaster at KUT in Austin, before moving over to the Texas Newsroom.