By Robbie Owens

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The return to cold weather has some North Texans hurrying to get their flu shots, and local health experts say that’s a great thing because the upcoming holidays spread a lot more than love.

Cheryl Vera-Burkhalter, M.D., a Family Practice physician with Methodist Medical Center Dallas, said her practice saw a spike at the end of August. But, the virus typically peaks in DFW in December and January.

“You have that close contact,” Vera-Burkhalter said. “People on airplanes and closed environments where those respiratory droplets are shared and that’s how that gets transmitted.”

However, John Martinez isn’t waiting that long. His 5-year-old daughter Abigail has asthma, which makes her more vulnerable.

“She used to get sick a whole lot,” Martinez said. “Since we got the flu shot, she’s been a whole lot better. Especially around this season, we really haven’t had a problem at all.”

Director of Dallas County Health Dr. Phil Huang said it’s a prevention message that county health officials will once again take into underserved communities.

“Every year, it’s the same message,” Huang said. “The best protection that we have is for people to get their flu shot. But then also do things like wash their hands, don’t rub their eyes and nose, cough into your sleeve. If you’re sick, stay home and don’t get out and spread it.”

And for those who insist that the vaccines makes them feel unwell, Vera-Burkhalter has an explanation.

“When we give you a vaccine, we’re trying to provoke an immune response, and that immune response will make you a little bit tired, and a little icky… So, your body is doing what it’s supposed to do when you get the vaccine,” Vera-Burkhalter said. “You do not have the disease.”

Doctors say it takes 7-10 days for the vaccine to become effective, so don’t delay.

The Dallas County Health department will offer free flu shots at their mobile clinics scheduled now through the next several weeks.

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