Confirmed Cases of Flu at JPS

October 5th, 2018

Flu season has begun in Tarrant County.

JPS Health Network has already confirmed several cases of the virus in patients. That means it’s time to get your flu shot, if you haven’t already done so, to keep yourself from getting sick while also helping to prevent the flu from spreading.

JPS Health Network

Flu shots are given to JPS Health Network team members on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas. (photo by Kevin Fujii/JPS Health Network)

“People should get their flu shot every year to protect themselves,” said Dr. Grant Fowler, Chairman of Family Medicine at JPS. “You may think you don’t need it because you’re healthy. But people who are perfectly healthy get the flu every year -- and some of them die because of it.”

That being said, the flu is no reason to panic. The vast majority of people who get the flu don’t require any medical care at all. Doctors recommend, if you think you have the virus, with symptoms that include some or all of the following -- fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue and, sometimes, vomiting – you should stay home, avoid contact with others and get some rest.

You should not go to the emergency room if you are mildly sick, doctors say. Instead, call your primary care physician for advice. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the time to seek medical attention for the flu is when these symptoms occur: Trouble breathing, bluish skin color, being unable to eat, dizziness, confusion and persistent vomiting.

Kellie Bunch, RN Team Lead in the Emergency Department, said she thinks the fact that the last few flu seasons have been rough is no coincidence. Because of the Fort Worth area’s rapidly-expanding population, she believes higher numbers of flu patients and an earlier start to flu season are the new normal.

“We’re definitely expecting another bad flu season this year,” Bunch said. “In fact, we’re already preparing for the heavy volume of patients we believe we’ll see soon.”

Bunch said JPS will go into flu mode, effective October 6 with increased staffing and dedicated space to isolate patients with the flu from the general population.

In addition to the confirmed cases, JPS has seen a wave of patients lately with similar illnesses. A total of 122 people have come to the health network with flu-like symptoms since Sept. 1, according to JPS records. In the Emergency Department, 96.3 percent of patients tested negative while 97.6 percent of urgent care patients tested did not have the virus. But the percentage of positive tests is expected to rise quickly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu activity is currently “sporadic” in Texas and surrounding states. But widespread flu activity is already being reported in other places of the country. In Massachusetts and Utah, regional flu outbreaks are already underway and there have been local outbreaks in states including Arizona, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin.

While doctors used to recommend their patients wait to get flu shots until the end of October in hopes that the vaccination would remain strong until flu season starts to wane around the end of February, that’s not the case anymore. Since the flu has seemed to start earlier the past few years, doctors now recommend that patients get their shots earlier, preferably in September or early October, Bunch said. That way, there is a better chance of preventing the flu from taking root early, and stretching out the season.

Walk-in flu vaccinations are now available at all JPS medical homes and community health centers across Tarrant County from 3-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Fridays. They are recommended for all adults and children six months old and older and cost $25 if your health insurance doesn’t cover them.

Over the last decade, the United States has counted between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually due to the flu, according to the CDC. The best way to avoid the virus, doctors say, is to get vaccinated every year.

Flu shot locations:

JPS Main Campus, Fort Worth

Family Health Center, 1500 S. Main St., Fourth Floor
Magnolia Health Center, 1400 S. Main St.
Pediatric Clinic: 1400 S. Main St.

Fort Worth

Diamond Hill Health Center, 3308 Deen Road
Polytechnic Health Center, 1650 S. Beach St.
South Campus Health Center, 2500 Circle Drive
Stop Six/Walter B. Barbour Health Center, 3301 Stalcup Road

Viola Pitts/Como Health Center, 4701 Bryant Irvin Road North
True Worth Clinic, 1513 Presidio St.

Arlington

Medical Home Southeast Tarrant, 2050 W. Arkansas Lane

Azle

Northwest/Iona Reed Health Center, 401 Stribling Drive

Northeast Tarrant County

Medical Home Northeast Tarrant, 3200 W. Euless Boulevard, Euless
Gertrude Tarpley Health Center, 6601 Watauga Road, Watauga


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