Officials warn worst of flu season still ahead - Dallas News |

Officials warn worst of flu season still ahead

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Health officials say when it comes to the flu this year the worst is yet to come.

So far this year nearly twice as many people have been seen in Dallas County's hospitals for the flu than last year, but the virus is nowhere near its peak.

Jessica Castles and her children came down with the flu during the New Year's holiday.

"It's horrible, you know, with the little one. He's just very lethargic, just laying down. He doesn't want to do anything, hardly eating," she said.

The Castles did not get flu shots this year despite the fact that Dallas County has been offering the protection free since November.

"What we're dealing with right now is that there is not a vaccine shortage nationally, it's just a low inventory because you try and get as many people as possible vaccinated before the holiday period," said Zach Thompson with the Dallas County health department.

It was the holiday flu-related death of 17-year-old Max Schwolert that has changed many opinions about the flu vaccine.

"The tragic death of the young man in Flower Mound has really increased the awareness of people getting the flu shot. So I really want to commend his family for raising the consciousness of Dallas County and North Texas residents on the importance of getting the flu shots. From that we've been inundated with people coming in trying to get the flu shots," Thompson said.

The county still has vaccines and an additional 1,000 doses are expected to arrive any day now.

And with the death of a 6-year-old girl who had been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms, Thompson is stressing the importance of getting that shot against both Type A and Type B influenza now.

"We don't think that the flu season is going to end anytime soon so getting the shot today will get you prepared if you haven't been sick. It will get you ready to make sure you're protected as we go forward," he said.

Health officials said it takes about 10 days for the flu vaccination to offer maximum protection from the virus.

Those who are already sick are encouraged to stay away from others, but see a doctor for medicines like Tamiflu that can help shorten the sickness cycle.

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