Three people have died in Dallas County from influenza so far, according to county health officials, and that number could be on the rise as flu season hits its peak next month.
The deaths of three adults of unknown ages are believed to be the first this flu season in Dallas County. The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus is the major strain affecting people locally and across the county.
Dallas County Health and Human Services released the information in a flu report that came out Monday.
Officials said two more deaths could be flu-related, but are currently being analyzed by the medical examiner. Twenty-four people were admitted to intensive-care units due to the flu in the last two weeks, and eight pregnant women have been admitted to hospitals due to influenza in Dallas County.
Health officials reiterate that people need to get their flu shots while supplies are available, and Dallas County is even ordering extra vaccines in anticipation of widespread illness.
Flu shots are free at the Dallas County Health Department for those who qualify.
Zach Thompson with the Dallas County Health Department says it takes two weeks for the body to build immunity to the flu after getting the shot.
Last January, Dallas County had two pediatric flu deaths. Thompson doesn't want a repeat, and says Christmas vacation is a good time for parents to get their children vaccinated.
"The disturbing piece will be next week when children are going back to school and they haven't had their flu shot," said Thompson. "So it's very important that they get their flu shots and that's the critical point that they have to focus on right now."
Some parents have already gotten the message.
"I bring them here for a shot every year and they've been doing well not getting sick," said parent TaYe Abebe. "That's the important thing."
The Houston area has seen quite a few deaths, and Thompson says Texas has reported more cases than much of the country because people aren't getting vaccinated.
There have been no flu deaths of children in Dallas County so far this flu season.
For information on Dallas County-sponsored immunization clinics, click here.
Cases in Collin County have tripled from the week before Christmas to last week.
KDFW FOX 4
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