Coronavirus Files

covid-19 reduction

VIRAL INFECTIONS SKYROCKET, IMPACTING KIDS AND HOSPITALS

The flu virus took full advantage of family gatherings over the Thanks-giving holiday.

Over the week that ended Nov. 26, hospitalizations for flu nearly doubled, reports Richard Franki at Web-MD. The number of positive flu tests that week, more than 34,000 nation-wide, is the most ever reported, with records going back to 1997, reports Keren Landman at Vox — though that figure is in part explained by higher testing rates.

The CDC’s map of flu-like illness rates, normally a woodsy mix of green hues in autumns past, is now a patchwork of purple and red.

RSV and COVID are also going strong. Pandemic protection measures flattened both RSV and the flu in recent years, so the population lacks immunity, creating an ideal opportunity for them to come back strong.

Children in particular, and the pediatric hospital units that serve them, are suffering from the “tripledemic,” write Sallie Permar and Robert J. Vinci at STAT. Families are struggling to find children’s fever medicines, with drug store shelves nearly bare, reports Laurel Wamsley at NPR.

Most people do have some immunity to COVID this season. A recent preprint estimates that some 94% of the U.S. population has been infected by the virus at least once. That, plus vaccinations, should provide some measure of protection against the worst outcomes — but COVID hospitalizations still rose in Thanksgiving’s wake, reports Erin Prater at Fortune Well. The BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 variants currently circulating have a greater ability to escape prior immunity than previous variants, notes Michael DePeau-Wilson at MedPage Today.

New York City is experiencing a high rate of new COVID cases and COVID hospitalizations, report Corina Knoll and Sarah Cahalan at The New York Times, but it’s Los Angeles County — the nation’s most populous — that’s currently staring down the possibility of a new mask mandate.

LA County’s Department of Public Health has set two trigger points for the return of masking requirements. The first such trigger, 10 or more weekly hospital admissions for COVID per 100,000 residents, has already been met, report Luke Money and Rong-Gong Lin II at the Los Angeles Times. If the county hits the second mark — 10% or more of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients — it could prompt the return of a mask mandate in early January, said LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

While LA County, and the CDC, have already encouraged people to mask up to avoid the stew of circulating respiratory viruses, public enthusiasm for a return to face coverings is decidedly low, report Cahalan and Knoll.

“Three years in, it is extraordinarily difficult to mandate,” said Dr. Sara Cody, public health director for Santa Clara County.

WOMEN, BLACK AND ASIAN PEOPLE LEFT OUT OF COVID TRIALS

Amid a collection of 122 COVID trials, researchers generally failed to recruit participants who mirrored the general population, according to a new JAMA Network study.

Women were underrepresented among the pool of more than 176,000 participants, as were Black and Asian people.

Better representation is important because doctors can’t be confident in treatments only tested on groups with skewed demographics.

In contrast, Latino and Hispanic people were overrepresented. That may reflect the preponderance of trials in states like Florida, Texas and California, which have large Hispanic and Latino populations, reports Annalee Armstrong at Fierce Biotech.

The Pew Research Center recently released a poll on attitudes towards clinical trial participation, and found that Black and Hispanic individuals were a little less likely to say such trials are important than white or Asian people. In focus groups, some people of color pointed to past mis-treatment of communities of color in medical research as reason to avoid being a “test case.”

OMICRON BOOSTER AUTHORIZED FOR KIDS AS YOUNG AS 6 MONTHS

The bivalent booster that targets the omicron variant has been authorized for children under 5, the FDA announced.

Eligibility depends on which shots kids got previously. Those who received two doses of Moderna’s original-formula vaccine can already get that company’s bivalent booster. Children who are midway through Pfizer’s three-dose regimen for that age group can receive a bivalent booster for their third shot.

But those who already completed Pfizer’s primary series will have to wait.

The FDA has not yet received data to support a fourth, bivalent shot for those children, but expects to have the data in hand by January, reports Spencer Kimball at CNBC.

Common Flu Questions

Common Flu Questions
Common Flu Questions

Does the flu shot actually work?

  • According to the CDC, in 2019-2020, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.

Can you get the flu from the flu shot?

  • Flu shots do not contain live flu viruses, so you cannot get flu from a flu shot.

Is the flu shot dangerous? What are the side effects?

  • Common side effects are soreness, redness, swelling where the shot was given, headache (low grade), fever and muscle aches.
  • Side effects of the flu are not frequent, in one study there was only a 5% chance of side effects from the flu shot.

The flu is common and not dangerous, why do I need a flu shot?

  • According to the CDC’s weekly flu index, as of December 2022, 53,000 people have been hospitalized and 2,900 people have died from the flu, including 12 children.
  • The flu can affect anyone regardless of age. One Parkland physician had a healthy teenager who died from the flu within 24 hours of developing a fever.

At Parkland, you can get the flu shot at no cost to you at many locations across our health system.

  • Walk-in Wednesdays: No appointment needed, see below for locations.
  • Community-based health centers
  • Flu drives
  • Youth & Family centers

To learn more about the flu visit https://www.parklandhealth.org/stop-the-flu.

Dallas County reports first pediatric flu death of 2022

A drive-thru clinic
A drive-thru clinic
A drive-thru clinic was conducted in Grand Prairie earlier this fall.(Liesbeth Powers / Staff Photographer)

By Marin Wolf

Dallas County Health and Human Services has reported its first pediatric flu death this year as flu cases continue to climb unseasonably early.

The patient, who was not an infant, had underlying health conditions, said Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.

The county had no pediatric flu deaths during the 2021-22 flu season as COVID-19 public health measures kept the contagious virus at bay. But that changed as masking and social distancing dwindled in the last year.

Pediatric hospitals are dealing with an onslaught of patients with the flu and RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus. Experts say children are finally catching the viruses they hadn’t contracted during the height of the pandemic.

While most older children and adults fare just fine against the flu or RSV, some populations are at risk for serious complications from the viruses. Infants, children with compromised immune systems and the elderly are more likely to experience severe disease from the flu.

Symptoms of the flu, RSV and COVID-19 look similar and can include cough, congestion, fever and body aches. Pediatricians are also reporting that many flu patients are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, like vomiting and diarrhea, which can cause dehydration.

Good health hygiene practices, like regular hand washing and staying home when sick, remain some of the best ways to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. Vaccinations against the flu and COVID-19 are available for most age groups.

Flu Shot Walk-in-Wednesdays at COPC Locations

Parkland

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Stop The Flu Before It Stops You!

Join us every Wednesday from 9 a.m – 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.  – 4 p.m. to receive your flu shot.

Flu shots are not available between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

No Appointment needed! Wear a mask.

For more information about the flu, please visit https://www.parklandhealth.org/stop-the-flu 

Locations:

  • Bluitt-Flowers Health Center
    303 E. Overton Road
    Dallas, TX 75216
  • deHaro-Saldivar Health Center
    1400 N. Westmoreland Road
    Dallas, TX 75211
  • E. Carlyle Smith, Jr. Health Center
    801 Conover Drive
    Grand Prairie, TX 75051
  • Garland Health Center
    802 Hopkins Street
    Garland, TX 75040
  • Hatcher Station Health Center
    4600 Scyene Road
    Dallas, TX 75210
  • Irving Health Center
    1800 N. Britain Road
    Irving, TX 75061
  • Oak West Health Center
    4201 Brook Spring Drive
    Dallas, TX 75224
  • RedBird Health Center
    3560 W Camp Wisdom Rd.
    Suite 100
    Dallas, TX 75237
  • Southeast Dallas Health Center
    9202 Elam Road
    Dallas, TX 75217
  • Vickery Health Center
    8224 Park Lane, Suite 130
    Dallas, TX 75231
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