Two McLennan County residents have died of flu-related causes, Waco-McLennan County Public Health District spokeswoman Kelly Craine said. Both had underlying health issues and were over the age of 80.

Experts have said the flu shot has a 10 percent effectiveness rate this flu season, which lasts each year from October to about March.

According to the most recent city data, there were 692 confirmed cases of the flu in McLennan County in the week ending Jan. 6. The most confirmed cases in any of the past four years at this point was about 150 cases.

The week ending Jan. 6 saw 1,182 cases of flu-like illnesses and confirmed flu cases reported, down from 1,541 cases reported in the week ending Dec. 22. The decrease is likely a result of holiday travel, Craine said.

“The flu is very active right now in our area, so people need to take precautions right now,” Craine said. “We still recommend a flu shot because it can provide you some protection. If you are sick, please stay home. Don’t spread it to others.”

She also recommended people wash their hands, practice good hygiene and seek medical help if necessary. Prescription medication, including Tamiflu, can ease symptoms and help patients overcome the flu quicker, according to a city press release.

The past three weeks have been the three worst for confirmed flu cases in McLennan County in at least five flu seasons, according to city data. The historical comparison does not include flu-like illnesses.

Phillip has covered higher education for the Tribune-Herald since November 2015.

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