By CHRISTIN COYNE
Despite a flu vaccination season that would typically be drawing to a close, the Parker County Hospital District is continuing to see a strong demand for children’s flu shots.
As of Jan. 23, they’ve provided a total of 10,438 flu shots since September, a number higher than Tarrant County, district officials told the board of directors last week.
“This year’s been interesting, especially with the media for the past couple weeks,” Lisa Franklin, Outreach Program Coordinator, said Thursday.
The district has given out more than 450 doses of flu during the first three weeks of January alone, Franklin said.
“That is unheard of this late for us,” Franklin said. “Usually when December rolls around, business just drops off and we just sporadically see some, you know, in December and maybe a little bit in January. But the office phone has just been ringing off the hook for at least two weeks now.”
People have been desperately trying to find flu shots, Franklin said.
Because of the high demand, Parker County had been the recipient of additional doses of flu, according to Franklin.
“I’ve been on the phone with the health department the past few weeks,” Franklin said, adding, “They called on my behalf, begging other people to give us theirs. It’s just been crazy.”
“We’ve given more [flu vaccinations] than Tarrant County,” district CEO Randall Young said.
Palo Pinto and Arlington released doses to Parker County, and Parker County recently received a hundred more doses from the state, according to Franklin.
“It’s finding kids’ shots, kids’ doses, that has been the hard part,” Franklin said. “Adults, we’re fine.... It’s the kid’s doses that are the issue.”
“It has been very busy, and it has taken the whole entire office to step in and help out,” Franklin said.
The hospital district is hoping the flu vaccinations are helping the attendance rate at local schools during flu season, statistics they are tracking with the schools over a several year period.
They kicked off the annual outreach program in September by giving flu vaccinations at area schools.
More than 6,300 students were vaccinated in the school districts alone, according to the district.
The vast majority of children’s parents have been signing them up for flu vaccinations when the district goes to schools, something that has changed some in recent years, according to Young.
The media coverage of a couple of child flu-related deaths in the Metroplex contributed to the flu shot rush in January, according to Young.
“You know, we keep saying every year, 50,000 people in America die from the flu every year,” Young said. “People just don’t think that.”
“I want people to know that we’ve given 10 percent of the county flu shots,” Young told the board.