DALLAS –– By the time flu cases in Dallas County spike in February, the health department’s current stash of 3,000 adult vaccine doses will likely have dwindled. Which, says the county’s top health official, is why residents should be proactive now about getting vaccinated.
“People die from the flu, but we’ve never seen anyone die from the flu vaccine,” said Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zach Thompson.
Thompson briefed the commissioner’s court Tuesday morning on the amount of flu cases throughout the county, which has trended upward ever since temperatures began dipping. Luckily, there have been no pediatric deaths from the flu this year in Dallas County. Fifty of the county's 182 diagnoses have required hospitalizations.
As we reported last week, county records show a steady climb in cases: 16 during the week of Nov. 9, 19 during the week of the 16th, 41 for the week of Nov. 23 and 67 during the last week in November. That’s to be expected, Thompson said, but it should also be a wake up call to residents who have balked at getting vaccinated.
“Right now, we’re seeing an uptick in our cases, which is traditional,” he said. “The concern is that residents are not taking the flu shots –– Dallas County has basically been offering free flu shots for the last two months.”
To date, Thompson said the county has doled out about 8,000 vaccine doses, leaving just 3,000 left for the season. That’s not counting pharmacies, grocery stores and doctor’s offices that are also supplying the vaccine. But once the county’s allotment is gone, it’s likely to stay that way for the rest of winter.
“It’s very difficult to order flu vaccine in January because manufacturers have already produced certain numbers of vaccine that they’re going to produce for the year and they’ve already distributed it,” he said. “I don’t want that pushback about, ‘Can you get vaccine?’ It’s very difficult to get vaccine in January. That’s why you pre-order in the summer to make sure you have enough flu vaccine in.”
County records show the majority of this year’s flu diagnoses have been Influenza A, which includes H1N1, known colloquially as swine flu. The vaccinations protect against both Influenza A and B.
Thompson also stressed the importance of keeping your hygiene in order: Don’t cough on others and wash your hands thoroughly with soap, as Commissioner John Wiley Price reminded.
Anyone interested in getting a flu shot can do so from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Health and Human Services headquarters at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway.