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FOR RELEASE: November 24, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

State Health Officials Thankful for Influenza Vaccine

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is giving thanks that Oklahoma continues to receive influenza vaccine to meet the needs of those persons most at risk from complications of influenza.

State health officials recommended today that all persons who meet the guidelines for being at high risk due to complications from influenza should take the opportunity of accessing newly available influenza vaccine now in the state and seek immediate vaccination.

“There may be those whose health condition places them in one of the high-risk categories, yet they do not feel they need an influenza shot or perhaps they want to do their civic duty and step aside to let others have access to the vaccination,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

“Thankfully, we are now at a point that we have received more influenza vaccine than we thought we would this season - nearly all that we originally ordered - so we want to make certain that all high-risk individuals, even those who feel healthy, get their influenza shot as soon as possible,” he advised.

Persons who should get their influenza shot now include the following:

  • All children ages 6 - 23 months.
  • Adults 65 and older.
  • Persons aged 2 - 64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions.
  • All women who will be pregnant during the influenza season.
  • Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
  • Children aged 6 months - 18 years who are on chronic aspirin therapy.
  • Health care workers involved in direct patient care.
  • Out of home caregivers and household contacts of children aged less than 6 months.

Local county health departments and many private providers now have vaccine for both children and adults, with no long waiting lines, so public health officials urge persons to contact their health provider or county health department for influenza vaccination clinic schedules.

“While there have been no confirmed influenza cases yet in Oklahoma, as we visit with family and friends this Thanksgiving weekend, the chances of spreading the influenza virus from person to person will increase,” Crutcher said. “We urge everyone to practice personal precautions to reduce the risk of spreading germs by washing your hands often with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based cleaner; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; and avoid close contact with persons who are ill.”

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