DALLAS, TEXAS—The swine flu is getting all the headlines, but when it comes to vaccines, the seasonal flu is first in line. Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services started giving seasonal flu shots on Monday.
John Baker is among the first in the county to get vaccinated. "I usually always wait until September, usually October, but all of the news releases last week said to try to get it this week."
Dallas County has 10,000 doses and can order more if demand dictates. The seasonal flu kills about 36,000 people a year, Dallas County Health Director Zachary Thompson says that's a good reason to get vaccinated early.
"We feel like the flu may circulate early, we don't know. no one has a crystal ball in terms of what's going to happen as it relates to the flu or H1N1."
West Virginia's Charleston area Medical Center isn't taking any chances. The hospital is reportedly requiring 6,000 health care workers to get immunized against the seasonal flu or get another job. Here in North Texas, health care workers at Baylor voluntarily get vaccinated. Children's Medical Center strongly encourages it's workers to get vaccinated. The same goes for JPS, Parkland, Texas Health Resources and UT Southwestern.
Dallas County Medical Director Dr. John Carlo says the nationwide health care vaccination rate is about 60% locally, it's about 70%.
"I think what we've find is that most health care workers will vaccinate themselves because they know that is the safest way to protect their patients."
Dallas County Health officials say getting a seasonal flu shot now will create less confusion when the H1N1 vaccine, which is actually two shots, becomes available in mid-October.