Experts Say Flu protection vital during COVID-19 pandemic
DALLAS – Parkland Health & Hospital System will begin offering flu shots in a variety of settings this week with hopes of preventing a “twindemic” of influenza and COVID-19 illnesses in Dallas County that could jeopardize public health even further this fall and winter.
“If ever there was a year to get your flu shot, this is it,” said Joseph Chang, MD, Parkland’s Chief Medical Officer. “Get your shot as soon as possible, because it takes about two weeks to build your immunity to the flu after you get the vaccination. The worst case scenario for anyone would be contracting both flu and COVID-19 at the same time.”
Every year as school resumes and cold weather causes people to spend more time indoors, the flu spreads more quickly and case numbers rise. “Flu in and of itself can be a serious, even fatal disease. Fortunately, flu vaccinations are easily available and save lives,” Dr. Chang said.
Parkland will begin offering flu vaccinations for Parkland patients with an appointment with their provider at all Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) health centers beginning Oct. 1. Starting October 7, the general public and patients can come to their local clinic without an appointment for a flu shot any Wednesday during “Walk-in Wednesdays” throughout the flu season. Each COPC will also host special “flu drive events” during coming weeks.
Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinics
In addition, drive-thru flu vaccine clinics will be held at Parkland COPCs this fall. The first of these events is scheduled Friday, Oct. 9 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Southeast Dallas Health Center, 9202 Elam Rd., Dallas 75217 and another will be held on Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the deHaro-Saldivar Health Center, 1400 N. Westmoreland Rd., Dallas 75211. No appointments are necessary.
Parkland will also administer flu shots for the general public at the two Dallas drive-thru COVID-19 test sites, beginning Oct. 1 at the Ellis Davis Field House, 9191 South Polk St., Dallas 75232 and Oct. 5 at the Eastfield College Campus test site, 3737 Motley Drive, Mesquite 75150. Both sites are open Mondays – Saturdays, 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Parkland Youth & Family clinics will provide flu shots at a variety of Dallas school sites. Parkland’s HOMES mobile units will offer flu vaccinations at area shelters and partner organizations serving the homeless.
According to Trish Perl, MD, infectious disease specialist at Parkland and Chief of Infectious Disease at UT Southwestern Medical Center, the flu vaccine will not make you sick with the flu. “That’s a myth,” she said. “After receiving the vaccine some patients may experience symptoms like low-grade fever, but the symptoms usually go away within a day or two.”
Flu Season Runs From October- March
The flu season, which generally starts in October, continues into March and even later. People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
Parkland accepts insurance, including Medicaid/Chip and Medicare. All children will be assessed to determine if they are eligible for the Texas Vaccines for Children’s immunization program. Patients who are enrolled in the Parkland Financial Assistance (PFA) program can get their vaccines covered at no or low cost. PFA members will be responsible for their payment dependent on the PFA level. For persons without health insurance, Parkland can provide financial screening.