By Robbie Owens

GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) – An early and aggressive start to the flu season has sickened thousands of North Texans. But Dallas County health officials teamed up with Children’s Medical Center on Monday in Garland to get more residents vaccinated. Those who have not gotten the flu shot yet are set to run out of excuses.

Flu shots were being offered free at MyChildren’s Primary Care Clinic, located at 455 North Garland Avenue in Garland. Since Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many people were off from work and school. Staffers administered about 200 doses of vaccine on Monday. Additional doses of the vaccine will be available on Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. or until supplies run out.

Paul Bailey had been putting off flu shots for himself and his daughter. But the free clinic was just the push that he needed to get vaccinated. “I come to the conclusion, well, better safe than sorry,” he said. “So, I thought I’d bring her on in and get a flu shot.” Bailey said that it was not worth the risk considering what could happen — and has happened to folks across the Metroplex.

The very young and the elderly are the most vulnerable. But local health officials have been encouraging everyone to get vaccinated as they best way to protect against getting the flu. The virus is notorious for how quickly and easily it spreads — especially among those in close quarters. “We’re only halfway through the flu season,” said Laurie Holloway with Children’s Medical Center. “We haven’t peaked yet and we don’t want it to get any worse than it has been already, because it hasn’t been a fun season.”

Children’s Medical Center donated 200 vaccines for children 6 months old to 3 years old. The Dallas County health department added 600 vaccines for older patients. The shots are free for Dallas County residents.

Gillian Nash is a local teacher. She said that the clinic could not have come at a better time. “In November, I went to my primary care physician for my children,” she said. “They were already out. They’ve always told me no. I got concerned about going there, because there are so many sick people in there.”

Nash was likely right to be worried. But now, she said, “I’m feeling relieved, because I believe that it helps.”

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