National Influenza Vaccination Week continues through Saturday and shots administered today should take effect around Christmas.

The Texas Department of State Health Services’ latest Influenza Surveillance Report shows Henderson County and almost all of its neighbors are reporting some form of the flu.

“Last flu season was severe, and the U.S. saw a record number of flu-related hospitalizations and pediatric deaths,” said Dr. Jennifer Shuford, TDSHS infectious disease medical officer said. “We have no way of knowing if this flu season will be milder or just as severe as last season.

TDSHS officials remind people that a vaccination can help reduce the risk of flu and its potentially serious complications. People can find out where flu shots are available at texasflu.org or by contacting their health-care provider.

According to texasflu.org, at least four Athens locations are offering flu immunizations — CVS, Brookshire's, Walgreens and Walmart, all on East Tyler Street.

In January, flu-like symptoms caused the closure of schools in Eustace, Malakoff and Trinidad. In Malakoff on the Friday before the Martin Luther King Day holiday, 124 of the district's 1,380 students were absent.

Shuford recommends that residents 6 months and older get their flu vaccines as soon as possible. Vaccination is especially important for older adults, infants, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions because they are at greater risk of developing serious complications from the flu.

Influenza is a contagious disease caused by one of a number of related viruses. Flu symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches and fatigue. The onset of symptoms is sudden, and people should stay home until at least 24 hours after their fever is gone except to get medical care.

People experiencing symptoms are encouraged to seek treatment promptly. Antiviral drugs may shorten the duration or lessen the severity of the flu if started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.

State health officials recommend vaccinations and some other precautions that can help stem the spread of flu, such as washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when you're sick.