NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – More reports of influenza-related deaths are happening in North Texas. Collin County reported two flu victims early Friday and Dallas County Health and Human Services has reported 35 deaths.
DALCO HHS sees 300-500 people a day wanting flu shots. So many they have to cut off the line at mid-afternoon so employees can go home. Among those getting vaccinated Friday was 11-year-old Brittany Chapman, who was brought in by her great-grandmother.
“My dad was sick, then I got kind of sick and then it went through the whole family,” said Brittany. Great-grandmother Sue Hughes didn’t need convincing about the wisdom of getting Brittany vaccinated. “I’d already had my flu shot and my husband had his, and I wanted to get hers — nip it in the bud.”
Dallas County has consolidated all its vaccine at its main office on Stemmons Freeway to keep track of inventory, according to HHS Director Zach Thompson. “We’re very fortunate to have enough flu vaccine to take care of a large crowd.”
Other health organizations in North Texas are take differing approaches to combat the virus. Fort Worth’s trauma hospital, John Peter Smith, activated its “code yellow” status, postponing elective surgeries to save bed space for flu victims. But it is expanding hours at neighborhood health care centers to take up the slack.
Baylor University Medical Center in downtown Dallas is also at code yellow, but that’s to streamline emergency purchases if needed. Parkland and Methodist Hospitals–Dallas’ other two trauma centers–are taking no extra steps so far.
Officials at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo are staying pro-active, since high-attendance events could help spread disease, according to the show’s Shanna Weaver. “We do have quite a bit of signage throughout the properties – all through the barns and along the restrooms. Just to kind of drive that subliminal message home, to just take care of yourself and to be aware of your surroundings,” she said.
The American Airlines Center in Dallas put in extra hand sanitizers and hygiene routines during the last serious flu outbreak and anticipates making no changes for tomorrow’s NBA Mavs game. The AAC has 22 hand sanitizing stations and its restrooms can be used without touching the plumbing or doors. Its food service workers also follow standard hygiene practices.
For most of us, hand washing and especially flu shots provide the most protection in these highly-publicized days of uncertainty. Back at the HHS office, Daniella Rodriguez explained why she brought her brother, sister, and niece for flu shots. “I guess, it’s just reality hit me we didn’t want to die, we didn’t want to be like other families.”
And a spot check of selected school districts in Dallas and Collin Counties shows no plans for extra precautions at high school basketball games this weekend. They report only normal absences from school as well.
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