Huguley program offers free flu shots
It remains unclear how severe flu season could be this fall and winter.
Three positive tests have been confirmed in North Texas in the past week, and Texas Health Huguley Hospital has treated three patients who aren't expected to return positive results for the virus.
"If you can get the [vaccine], you should get it," said Joe Wascomb, community outreach coordinator for Huguley Hospital.
He administers a program funded by a federal grant to distribute free flu shots to residents. Wascomb has ordered 4,000 doses. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 157 million to 168 million doses will be provided nationwide, with 122.4 million doses presently in circulation. The record doses distributed was 155.1 million in 2010-11.
"There's going to be plenty of vaccine to go around this year," Wascomb said. "If you allow the flu to advance to pneumonia, you're going to end up being hospitalized."
Huguley Hospital's supply of free flu shots have begun to be distributed. Clinics will be offered from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at Burleson High School, and from 2:30-6 p.m. Friday at Centennial High School.
"No one seems to know how bad flu season is going to be," Wascomb said. "We're hoping there will be very few cases in Johnson and Tarrant Counties because of this effort."
All residents qualify for the free flu shots, Wascomb said, but the program specifically wants to serve the uninsured and underinsured, as well as low-income individuals. He ordered 4,000 doses last year and ended up having to discard 100.
"We don't want to have any leftover," Wascomb said. "We're hopeful to give out all of our doses."
The grant program is in its second year, and Wascomb believes it has helped prevent outbreak of the flu virus.
"If you have insurance and it doesn't cover vaccinations, we would like to see you," he said. "There's a very short wait. We just fill out some very minimal paperwork and identification is not required."
Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms this fall and winter should seek immediate attention, Wascomb said.
"See a doctor quickly so it won't progress into something more critical."