The North Texas flu season is in full swing and is already seemingly packing a powerful punch in parts of Tarrant County this year.
MedStar, which services Fort Worth and parts of western Tarrant County, has seen flu-related calls increase by more than five times compared to this time last year.
To help combat this, the MedStar team now has a mobile flu shot unit.
“We are bringing flu vaccines to people,” MedStar representative Matt Zavadsky said. “This is the first year that we’ve done it and it was directly in response to having 1,100 flu-related 911 calls last year and we really didn’t want to repeat that this year.”
MedStar hopes to be proactive keeping the community healthy.
“We will bring several of these to the injection site and to the vaccine site and literally draw the syringes and line people up and we’ve done 10, 20 [and] 30 people in less than an hour,” Zavadsky said.
Any group in their service area with 10 or more people needing vaccines can sign up for the service. The cost is $25 per person, but most insurance plans will cover the services. MedStar will provide the proper paperwork for submission to insurance providers.
“When we’ve already had 226 911 calls with patients complaining of flu-related illness we want to do everything we can to not have to respond to those calls and keep the people in our community healthy,” Zavadsky said.
With so many people requesting emergency services, when it comes to flu-like symptoms, when is it appropriate to call for emergency services?
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“Most of the time flu and flu-related symptoms are not anything you would need to go to the emergency room for or anything you would need to call 911 for,” Zavadsky said.
But there are some signals that your situation is an emergency. Below are some emergency warning signs of flu sickness.
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Fever with a rash
“If you feel really terrible, call your doctor. They can give you advice over the telephone. They may even be able to call in a prescription for you,” Zavadsky said. “You can certainly go to one of the urgent cares or primary care clinic that might be convenient for you. But, you don’t have to go to the emergency room.”
More information on scheduling the mobile flu unit can be found on the MedStar website.