Perhaps Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has always talked about health.
I wasn’t paying attention before COVID-19.
Apparently, transitioning from pandemic to endemic hasn’t quelled his enthusiasm for the topic.
During a recent Rotary Club of Park Cities meeting, the judge touted three vaccines, an emergency phone number, and the benefits of having a morning quiet time.
My friend Tom Swift, uncharacteristically decked out in coat and tie, introduced Jenkins as the personification of the club’s strategic priorities: hunger, leadership development, and health and wellness.
“As one of his 2,700,000 constituents in Dallas County, I’d like to thank him for his commitment to protecting the health of our community,” Swift said.
We are already weeks into vaccination season. North Texas may not get much autumn color, but calls to get shots fall upon us from our televisions, doctors, and county officials.
Jenkins urges residents to get their flu shots, COVID-19 boosters, and, depending on age, the RSV vaccine.
We’ve previously worried about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in young children. The newest strains also threaten adults 60 and older.
“The older you are, the more extreme,” Jenkins warned. “It’s a respiratory virus, and you don’t want it, so good thing vaccines should be very plentiful (and free with insurance).”
My pharmacist persuaded me to get the COVID booster and the flu shot during the same visit, mere minutes before I caught a DART train to Fair Park.
Needle pokes in each arm didn’t prevent me from later exploring new pickup trucks and SUVs, posing with dinosaurs, and enjoying a corny dog at the State Fair.
Shoulder soreness subsided within a couple of days. Fever and congestion never arrived.
For those who may complain, “I got the flu shot, and then I got the flu,” Jenkins has a response.
“Well, you probably got the flu shot at the height of the flu season,” he said. “It takes a while for that shot to protect you.”
COVID shots don’t have coronavirus in them, and flu and RSV shots use only dead viruses, the judge explained.
Jenkins is also concerned about mental health. He’s increasingly had conversations with people contemplating self-harm.
“If somebody, God forbid, had a heart attack here, you know a three-digit phone number that you could call,” he said, referring to 911. “If somebody is in a mental health crisis or says to you, ‘The world would be better if I’m not even here,’ does anybody know a three-digit phone number?”
The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is 988.
Jenkins has a 15-minute morning practice for keeping sane, healthy, and happy in this high-stress life.
Before checking the phone for those all-cap angry messages full of exclamation points, he recommends reflecting over inspirational readings, focusing on thankfulness, and thinking about the kind of person you want to be.
“That is what puts you in a position to actually get to that to-do list,” he said. “You don’t have to be religious to do that.”