Flu vaccine is in limited supply at Tarrant County Public Health Centers this week, and Dallas County reports shortages of pediatric doses. The demand is high as flu cases rise in North Texas.
Dr. Anita Kurian, chief epidemiologist for Tarrant Public Health told county commissioners doctor’s visits for flu are not as high as 2009 when we had the Swine Flu outbreak, but this is a bad flu season.
“Currently our flu-like related illness doctor’s visits is at 11 percent," Kurian reported. "This is way above the county baseline of 3.8 percent."
Dr. Kurian says it is not too late to get a flu shot. Flu season usually lasts through April. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine’s protection to kick in. And, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control, the vaccine this year is 62% effective.
“What this means is that people who have been vaccinated for flu vaccine are 62 percent less likely to get the illness; 62 percent less likely to have a flu-related doctors visit, Kurian explained. "So, vaccination is still your best bet.”
Tarrant County expects arrival of 200 additional doses this week. Dallas County Health Department Director Zach Thompson says he just got 1,000 new doses, but he’s getting reports of a shortage of pediatric flu vaccine at some doctor’s offices and pharmacies. Denton and Collin counties report adequate supply.
To find out who has the vaccine in North Texas, you can call 2-1-1. In Tarrant County, call a special hotline: 817-248-6299. Flu vaccine providers by zip code are available at flu.gov.
Five deaths have been reported in North Texas: three in Dallas County, one in Tarrant and one in Denton County.