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More people seeking flu shots and emergency room treatment
BEAUMONT- by Haley Bull
The Beaumont health director said word the flu is linked to more than a dozen deaths in Southeast Texas is prompting a large number of people to get the flu vaccine.
The flu is linked to at least 13 deaths in the Houston region, which includes Beaumont. The health director said two people in Beaumont died of the flu or flu-related illness and it's suspected in the deaths of three other people.
It's one of the reasons Ruby Williams is visiting the Beaumont Public Health Department Monday
"Everybody's catching the flu. I don't want them to catch the flu, I don't want them to get sick," Ruby Williams said. She is making sure her grandchildren are protected.
"I don't want to get sick over Christmas break and have to stay in the house all day," her 15-year old granddaughter Chatara Williams said.
They're one family of many visiting the department.
"We are indeed seeing an increase in the numbers of people coming in for their flu shots and we're excited about that," Director Sherry Ulmer said.
The shot is one of the most effective ways to prevent the flu or limit the impact of the illness that is spreading across Texas.
"One of our hospitals, St.Elizabeth's, has reported to us that they're seeing about a hundred people a day coming in with influenza like illness," Ulmer said.
Many who haven't received a flu vaccine find themselves in emergency rooms for treatment of more serious problems linked to the flu.
Kathy Demeritt is an emergency room physician's assistant at Baptist Hospital in Beaumont. She sees many of the patients.
"In the past week we've had record numbers almost every day, seeing up to almost 300 patients," Demeritt said. "I think our top number was 294 patients in 24 hours."
People getting their flu shot, like Ruby Williams, are trying to avoid joining the growing crowd of flu patients in the emergency rooms.
Beaumont Health Director Sherry Ulmer said if you're experiencing shortness of breath, pressure in your chest or skin discoloration in addition to fever, chills or other flu symptoms,that's when it's time to seek emergency treatment.