Dallas County Health and Human Services announced through a press release on November 15 that they had recorded the first flu death of the 2021-2022 season. Amidst the COVID-19 cases, a bad flu season could overwhelm emergency rooms and ICUs in the region.

In response, DCHHS announced on November 16 they will be hosting a vaccination clinic at Fair Park on Sundays beginning November 21. Both flu vaccinations and COVID-19 vaccinations will be available.  

“This first death in Dallas County during this season is a sad reminder that influenza also needs to be taken seriously. The best way to protect yourself and others is to get your seasonal flu shot,” said Dr. Philip Huang, DCHHS Director, in a press release. “We also want everyone to know the flu shot can be given at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t yet received the COVID-19 vaccine or if you need to get your booster.”   

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently declared that they think administering both vaccines simultaneously is safe despite limited research and evidence. This reversal of earlier recommendations stipulated a 14-day window between flu shots and COVID-19 vaccine injections.  

“While limited data exists on giving COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines, including flu vaccines, experience with giving other vaccines together has shown the way our bodies develop protection and possible side effects are generally similar, whether vaccines are given alone or with other vaccines” the CDC website states.    

Researchers fear that many people will skip getting their flu shot after a historically low case number last flu season. Experts believe last year’s flu season was 98 percent lower than the previous year due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts such as wearing a face mask, physical distancing and washing hands regularly.     

Unlike last winter, many areas have dropped masking requirements, and more people are gathering in indoor settings. Though COVID-19 and influenza are not caused by the same virus, they both behave similarly.    

In a typical year, around 61,000 Americans die of the flu or complications from the disease. When flu season ended on February 5, 2021, only 1,675 cases were recorded. An epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Elie Klien, warned last year that flu cases could spike for the 2021-22 season.    

“Because of the current restrictions and precautions everyone is taking this season, far fewer people will be infected or exposed to the flu virus, and therefore won’t become immune to certain strains of the virus,” Klien said in Mar 2020. “So, the number of people who may have more severe infections next year is likely to be greater because immunity will be lower.”   

This year, the flu vaccine is intended to target four variants that are expected to be common in the U.S. this winter. The CDC recommends getting a flu shot early, washing hands, covering coughs, and avoiding indoor events where people are gathering if you feel ill.     

Beginning November 21 from 10 am to 4 pm, DCHHS will operate a pop-up, drive-through vaccination tent in Lot 13 at Fair Park. Flu vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines, and booster shots will be available. There is no cost for the shots. Pre-register through the DCHHS website.