CDC director visits Dallas County to urge people to get vaccinated before the holidays
Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend people get vaccinated against flu, COVID-19 and RSV heading into respiratory virus season.
The county on Friday hosted CDC Director Mandy Cohen, who toured the main vaccine site with Texas Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett, County Judge Clay Jenkins, and DCHHS director Philip Huang.
Cohen said it’s important to be proactive.
“We know we’re going to see more COVID, more flu, and we’re already in Texas seeing a high amount of RSV,” she said. “So, we want folks to use the tools to protect themselves, most importantly…getting vaccinated.”
In Dallas County, cases of flu and COVID-19 both increased slightly in October. The county saw between 50-90 positive flu cases during the weeks of Oct. 14 to Oct. 28, with between 4-7 hospitalizations during that time period. For COVID-19, the county averaged between 15-30 new positive cases a day last month. Data from Nov. 15 showed about 40 positive COVID-19 cases.
But that’s not the case with RSV. Cook Children’s in Fort Worth and Children’s Health in Dallas both warned parents recently that their emergency departments are being overwhelmed with the number of patients coming in with virus symptoms.
Since October, the number of positive RSV tests has climbed every week in the DFW Metroplex. Data from Texas Health and Human Services showed at the end of September, less than 10% of RSV tests were coming back positive. Now, it’s almost 35%.
“RSV typically starts around this time,” Cohen said. “It generally does start in the South [and] Southeast. So, it’s not surprising that we see it here in Texas first. But we do see pretty high levels of RSV circulating right now.”
Cohen encourages kids and families, including people who are pregnant, to get the RSV vaccine. But people have been having a hard time finding the vaccine, including pediatricians who want to offer it to their patients.
The CDC director said some of the vaccine manufacturers didn’t anticipate the demand, which is one reason for the shortage. The CDC released more than 77,000 new doses this week to pediatricians and hospitals across the country in response.
“There are more doses getting out there, and I know parents are frustrated,” Cohen said. “Call your pediatrician and make sure they know that you want the updated immunization for RSV.”
She also encouraged people who are pregnant to get the maternal RSV vaccine. The CDC recommends “people who are 32 through 36 weeks pregnant during September through January” get vaccinated.
Cohen said overall she wants to make sure Texans have a “happy and healthy Thanksgiving” by being proactive about their health.
“Make sure you’re getting vaccinated,” she said. “Use layers of protection as you get into Thanksgiving. Take tests with you, and make sure you’re testing yourself next week if you feel sick.”
COVID-19 and flu vaccines are available at local pharmacies and DCHHS clinics. COVID-19 vaccines for adults and children are free at the county’s clinics in Dallas, Farmers Branch, Irving, and Richardson.
The county’s main clinic, at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday for walk-ins and scheduled appointments. Child immunization clinics are also open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.
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