As the number of flu-related hospitalizations continues to increase, the Rogers County Health Department (RCHD) reminds residents there is still time to get a flu shot. “The public should keep in mind that getting a yearly flu vaccine is still one of the best things you can do to avoid the flu or a severe case of the flu,” stated Larry Bergner, Regional Director for several county health departments in NE Oklahoma including Rogers County Health Department.
Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reports a total of 92 deaths and more than 2500 hospitalizations associated with the flu since the season began in September. More than half of the hospitalizations have occurred among individuals 50 years and older.
Call Rogers County Health Department at 918-341-3166 to make an appointment to have a flu shot. The RCHD wants to remind residents that everyone is at risk for influenza and the flu vaccination is recommended for anyone 6 months of age and older.
Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for serious illness from the flu including pregnant women, children younger than 5 years of age and people with asthma, diabetes, chronic heart and lung disease and other chronic conditions. Parents and family members of babies younger than 6 months of age and people who live with or care for anyone at high risk for complications from the flu, including health care workers, should also get the vaccine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
- Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults.
- Flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac (heart) events among people with heart disease, especially among those who experienced a cardiac event in the past year.
- Flu vaccination also has been associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes (79%) and chronic lung disease (52%).
- Flu vaccine in a pregnant woman can reduce the risk of flu illness in her baby by up to half. This protective benefit was observed for several months after birth.
- Flu vaccination also may make your illness milder if you do get sick.
- Getting vaccinated yourself also protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
Symptoms of the flu include cough, fever, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue. It is important for those experiencing flu-like symptoms to consult with a healthcare provider as soon as possible. A provider may prescribe antiviral drugs to treat the flu. These drugs work better for treatment when started within 48 hours of noticing symptoms. Antiviral drugs may also be indicated as a prevention measure for especially vulnerable persons who have been in close contact with someone sick with the flu, infants less than 6 months old, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, or anyone with a medical condition which severely suppresses their immune system.
In addition to getting a flu shot, public health officials recommend the following prevention tips:
- Frequent hand washing using soap and water, or alcohol-based products such as hand gels when hands are not visibly soiled. AVOID touching your eyes, nose, and mouth – germs spread easiest in these areas.
- Make respiratory hygiene a habit, using tissues to cover coughs and sneezes, then disposing of them and washing hands at once. When tissues are not readily available, cough into your sleeve, never your hands.
- Stay home from work, school and other public places, except to get medical care or other necessities, until you have gone at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
Visit the OK Flu View at http://flu.health.ok.gov for weekly Oklahoma flu updates and additional information about the flu. Media inquiries should contact Jamie Dukes at (405) 271-5601 or JamieD@health.ok.gov.