The Jackson County Health Department has reported six deaths and 117 hospitalizations related to the Influenza virus in Oklahoma last week. Across Oklahoma, there has been a total of eight deaths and 345 flu-related hospitalizations since Sept. 30, 2012, of which four hospitalizations occurred in Jackson County. Health officials from both Jackson County Health Department and Oklahoma State Department of Health urge that flu vaccination is the best method to prevent catching the flu.
“The spread of influenza is occurring statewide, so if you haven’t already, now is the time to get your flu shot,” advised Jackson County Health Department Administrative Director, Karen Weaver. “We still have flu vaccine available and have purchased more that should arrive Friday.” The Jackson County Health Department charges $25 without insurance, and accepts Health Choice, Medicare, and Medicaid, or other financial assistance arrangements may be made.
Rexco Pharmacy in Altus confirmed flu vaccines will be in stock by next week, and will cost $28 for those without prescription coverage.
“An annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. Vaccination is especially important for those persons at high risk from flu complications including people 50 years of age and older, young children, persons with chronic lung disease (such as asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurological conditions, other long-term health conditions, and pregnant women.”
“Persons who have the flu can spread it to others even before they feel sick. The flu vaccine provides protection for the individual who receives it and reduces the chance of spreading the flu to persons who have not been vaccinated, including babies too young to receive a vaccination,” informed Weaver.
As described by the OSDH, many people who get the flu usually experience mild symptoms such as fever, coughing, sore throat, stuffy or runny sinuses, body aches, headaches, chills, or fatigue. There are certain people, however, with weaker immune systems that may be severely affected, including “young children, elderly persons, pregnant women and people with some long-term medical conditions.” It is recommended that you consult a health care provider if you believe you might be susceptible to becoming very sick.
In addition to vaccination, the Jackson County Health department strongly advises to make a conscious effort to practice frequent hand washing with soap and water or the use of alcohol based hand sanitizer, never using your hands to cover a cough or sneeze, but a tissue and least preferred, your sleeve.
A final precaution to keep everyone safe: Stay home.
Take the poll on the Altus Times website about flu shots at www.altustimes.com
*You can scan the QR code shown here to take you to the Red Cross web page with more information about the flu.