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FOR RELEASE: October 23, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Flu Confirmed in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma State Department of Health today announced that flu has officially arrived in Oklahoma. Two cases of influenza type A in Oklahoma County have been confirmed through laboratory diagnosis.

Oklahoma joins at least 10 other states that have already confirmed sporadic or regional cases of flu, including Texas.

“This may be the onset of an early flu season, so Oklahomans need to get their flu shots now,” said Don Blose, chief of the Immunization Service of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Oklahoma does not usually see influenza disease until late December or January and in most years, flu activity does not peak until January or February. The timing for influenza can vary from year to year, however, and outbreaks have been reported in October in previous years.

Blose said timely vaccination now against influenza is especially important for these high risk groups:

  • persons 65 years of age and older;
  • women who will be in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during influenza season; and
  • persons with one of several chronic, long-term health problems (heart or lung disease, kidney problems, asthma, HIV/AIDS, or other illnesses that suppress the immune system).

Influenza vaccination is also recommended for persons aged 50 to 64 years and health care workers and others in close contact with individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications. In addition, vaccination is encouraged, when feasible, for children 6 to 23 months of age and their household contacts, and out-of-home caregivers, because young children are at increased risk of influenza-related hospitalization.

County health departments are currently scheduling influenza clinics in communities throughout the state. An increase in the cost of flu vaccine this year means most counties have a slightly reduced supply of state-funded vaccine, and will give first priority to those persons at highest risk of influenza complications. It takes about two weeks after the shot for a person to gain full immunity.

Health officials also recommend that persons 65 and older and those with chronic health conditions check their records for pneumococcal vaccination to reduce the risk of pneumonia resulting from other respiratory illnesses. This vaccine is available at physicians’ offices and county health departments.

For more information about flu and pneumococcal vaccinations, or to find out about clinics scheduled in your area, contact your health care provider or your local county health department.

Center for Disease Control & Prevention Information on Influenza

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