As the number of influenza-related hospitalizations continues to increase, the Oklahoma State Department of Health you to get a flu shot before upcoming holiday gatherings to prevent spread of the illness.
The department reports 71 hospitalizations and three deaths associated with the flu since the season began in September. The highest number of flu-related hospitalizations has occurred among those who are older than 65 years of age, as well as children younger than 5, which are both groups at greater risk of experiencing severe illness and complications due to flu.
“It is important to stay home from holiday gatherings if you have symptoms of influenza, which are fever, chills, body aches, and a cough or sore throat,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley. “It is better to miss out on some holiday fun than risk infecting others. Flu can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and those who have underlying health conditions such as asthma and other lung diseases.”
Flu activity tends to increase between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Getting a flu vaccination is the most effective way to avoid this potentially serious illness.
Vaccinations are available at all county health departments with no out-of-pocket cost, as well as at medical providers and many pharmacies throughout the state. Everyone is at risk for influenza and the flu vaccination is recommended for anyone 6 months of age and older. Parents and family members of babies younger than 6 months of age, and those who live with or care for anyone at high risk for complications from the flu, are especially advised to get the vaccine.