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State data: Flu remains widespread in Texas

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm •  Published: January 12, 2013

At least six flu-related deaths of children have been reported in Texas since October; the state doesn't track adult deaths.

Six-year-old Tahlia Johnson was buried Friday after an emotional funeral service, where her small white coffin was adorned with pink and white flowers. Stuffed animals, a bicycle and other toys surrounded the casket.

She died Tuesday at her home. She was taken to a Dallas-area emergency room Monday night, but her family said she wasn't tested for the flu. Instead, Tahlia saw a nurse practitioner instead of a doctor and was sent home with an allergy medication and pain reliever, her relatives said.

The Dallas County medical examiner has confirmed that her death was flu-related.

"With these pediatric deaths, this is a wake-up call to make sure every child gets vaccinated," said Dallas County Health Department Director Zach Thompson. It's unclear if Tahlia had received a flu vaccination.

Thompson said a recent increase in demand for flu vaccines in Dallas may be because two of the six flu deaths were in Dallas County. Thompson said he received 1,000 doses of flu vaccines in the past week and plans to order more to accommodate the longer lines of people, many who said their pharmacies had no more.

In Austin, San Antonio, Wichita Falls and other cities, some pharmacies have reported shortages of a prescription anti-viral medication to treat the flu. Spokesmen for CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens said Friday that shortages were intermittent and temporary.

"If (pharmacies) are running out, that's a good thing, because that means people are getting the vaccine," Carol Schliesinger, a spokeswoman for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health Department, told the San Antonio Express-News.