FOR RELEASE: February 1, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
Flu Outbreak Spurs Renewed Push for Flu Shots
An influenza outbreak centered in northeastern Oklahoma emphasizes the need for all Oklahomans to make certain they have received their flu shot, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said today.
“Several schools in Craig and Ottawa counties have as many as half of their students out sick,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mike Crutcher. “Getting a flu shot now can still provide substantial protection against influenza and will help contain the spread and severity of this outbreak.”
State health department officials have been in Craig and Ottawa counties to evaluate the severity of the flu outbreak. Additional vaccine has been shipped to counties in northeastern Oklahoma to support the push to vaccinate as many residents as possible.
“People who don’t get a flu shot are taking two significant risks: they place themselves at risk for getting the flu, and they place others, especially babies, young children and the elderly, at risk of catching the flu from them,” Crutcher said.
Although it normally takes about 10 to 14 days to reach full immunity from influenza after getting a flu shot, some immunity does begin shortly after getting the vaccination. “You still have a window of opportunity to protect yourself from the flu by getting your flu shot now,” Crutcher said. “Persons aged 5 to 49 years old may be able to be vaccinated with FluMistŪ, a nasal flu vaccine that provides more rapid immunity in three to four days.”
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated, but the Oklahoma State Department of Health also recommends the following:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze – and dispose of the tissue afterward. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not your hands.
- Clean your hands frequently, especially after you cough or sneeze – with soap and warm water, or an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Use a standard household cleaner to regularly clean surfaces that are touched or handled frequently like doorknobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles and telephones.
- If you get influenza or any respiratory illness, avoid exposing others. Stay home from work or school and other public places like shopping centers until your symptoms improve.
- Keep yourself healthy. Eat right, get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and engage in moderate exercise on a regular basis.
The symptoms of influenza start suddenly and typically include a fever of 100° F or higher, chills, headache, sore throat, cough, extreme tiredness, and body aches. Most people with influenza will recover completely in one to two weeks; however, some persons may develop serious and potentially life-threatening medical complications, such as pneumonia.
Because the use of aspirin for children with influenza has been associated with Reye syndrome, health officials caution that aspirin should not be given to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever. Use instead medications such as acetaminophen to relieve fever and muscle aches associated with flu. Persons can also check with their health care provider about obtaining antiviral medications that can reduce the severity and duration of flu symptoms.
For more information about influenza, contact the county health department in your area or check out this OSDH Web site: http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/flu/index.html.