Doctors in Dallas County are urging county residents to get the flu vaccine as the season approaches.

County health officials have voiced concerns that this year’s flu season could prove ‘very devastating’. Health officials believe this season’s flu cases could increase from last year’s low numbers.

Dr. Carolee Estelle with Parkland Hospital said health officials are always worried about the flu season as it can lead to hospitalization and a lengthy ICU stay for many people.

Dr. Estelle encouraged residents to get the flu vaccine offered by the county at no charge. She added that health officials are pushing for the flu vaccine because they do not want to see the adverse effects of the flu again. “We certainly don’t want to see it on top of the COVID that we have now as well,” Dr. Estelle said.

She said more people may get the flu shot this season because of “COVID and the detriment that all the respiratory viruses can cause.”

Parkland Pediatrician Dr. Cesar Termulo, who lost his 16-year-old daughter to the flu in January 2020, also urged people to get the flu shot. He explained that the flu shot would prevent a lot of people from having complications or even death.

Dr. Termulo’s daughter, Teresa Reese Termulo, got the flu shot and was perfectly healthy when she got the flu. She contracted a flu strain that was not in the vaccine, but that has not stopped her father from encouraging people to get the flu shot.

“Would you get on I-35 without wearing a seatbelt? You wouldn’t,” Dr. Termulo said. “But there are people not wearing a seatbelt. So I think it’s the same with a flu shot.”

Cases of the flu were very low last year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthline reported a 98% decrease in flu hospitalizations from pre-pandemic numbers in the United States. They also reported fears of COVID and the flu creating a “twindemic,” but it never materialized.

Dallas County recorded only two confirmed flu cases and no deaths from September 2020 through March 2021, compared to the eighteen-thousand cases and twenty-five deaths from the same time frame from September 2019 to March 2020.

Patients can book an appointment to get the flu shot in Parkland. The hospital will also open pop-up locations for drive-through flu vaccinations across Dallas County starting Oct. 9.