Last chance to get flu shot before holiday travel


By Rick Carpenter - rick@altustimes.com



If you plan to get a flu vaccination in time to protect you during the Christmas holidays, you may be running out of time.

The shot takes about two weeks to build enough antibodies in your system to ward off the influenza virus.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control listed Oklahoma as one of two states with widespread outbreak of the flu.

It declares an area of “widespread” when outbreaks of influenza or increases in influenza-like-illness cases and recent laboratory-confirmed influenza in at least half the regions of the state with recent laboratory evidence of influenza, according to the CDC website.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirms 105 people have been hospitalized for the flu since Sept. 1 in Oklahoma including two people who died during the last reporting period, the week ending last Thursday. The two people who died were older than 65, according to a release from the health department.

Because the health department said the number of confirmed cases is relatively high for this time of year, it expressed concern there may be a high risk of people spreading the flu virus during the holiday season. And it states getting the flu vaccination is the single best way to protect yourself from the flu and its consequences.

Those who already have the virus have some or all of the following symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

Cara Gluck, regional director of the Jackson County Health Department, said that while the rest of the state may be experiencing higher volumes of flu-related illnesses, the local area hasn’t had a spike in the number of reported cases of influenza. Season to date, the health department has provided 399 vaccinations and has 228 doses left in stock. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 401 W. Tamarack Road in Altus.

The state health department recommends contacting your local health provider when you experience flu-like symptoms. In a press release, it states a physician may prescribe antiviral drugs to help you overcome the illness faster. It also recommends patients stay home for at least 24 hours after running a fever and avoid going to work, school, social events and public gatherings as well as traveling and shopping.

Even if you’re not traveling, you may be having people come to your home. But time is running out for you to get inoculated and have that two-week period of building up a resistance to the flu.

You can find more information at the state health department’s website, www.flu.health.ok.gov.

By Rick Carpenter

rick@altustimes.com

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