Health officials concerned over small number of those getting flu shot

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on December 14, 2010 at 10:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 15 at 5:12 PM

DALLAS - In North Texas, flu season typically peaks in January.

While the area hasn't seen much influenza yet, health officials are concerned that if and when it does hit, it could be worse since not enough people will be protected.

Once an offer of a flu shot was made at this Parkland clinic, Eloisa Pineda volunteered to get one. However, it wasn't because she's particularly concerned about getting sick, her husband said.

"No, she's not worried about it," Ventura Romero said.

Across North Texas, the number of flu shots distributed is way down.

By this time last year, Tarrant County had doled out nearly 46,000 seasonal and swine flu shots combined. This year, only about 7,200 doses have been given.

Dallas County has administered about 5,500 so far.  Last year, the combined total for both shots equaled more than 114,000.

Parkland Health System, which operates community clinics across the city, has given roughly a third of what was dispensed by this time last year.

Health authorities said without swine flu fear sweeping the nation, people aren't feeling the urgency to get vaccinated.

"People probably aren't as concerned as they were," said Kay Frank, nursing director of Parkland Community Clinics. "But, I think once we start getting those flu cases in January and February, people will see the need for the flu vaccine is still there."

And if influenza does surge, Pineda said she's glad to be protected.

Some people might also believe that a flu shot last year will protect them this year. That is not the case, according to the CDC.

Anyone over six months of age is recommended to get the flu vaccine. This year, one dose contains the H1N1 and a combination of seasonal strains.

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