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For Release:Oct. 16, 2008
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601 

County Health Departments Set to Launch Flu Clinics

The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced today that most local county health departments will begin offering flu vaccination clinics starting next week.

“Getting a flu vaccine each year is the best and most important step in protecting against this serious disease,” said Secretary of Health and Commissioner of Health Dr. Michael Crutcher. “We hope Oklahomans will use every opportunity to get vaccinated now.” Oklahoma’s flu season generally occurs from October through May.

This year 404,000 doses of adult and child vaccine were ordered by the Oklahoma State Department of Health for distribution to county health departments and public healthcare providers statewide.  State health officials believe supplies of vaccine will be sufficient to meet this year’s demand for flu shots from public health clinics. Vaccine is also available through private healthcare providers and other venues such as pharmacies and the Visiting Nurses Association.

State health officials are encouraging Oklahomans to use the “Take 3” system to fight the flu:

1)    Take the time to get a flu vaccination.

2)    Take everyday prevention actions including covering your cough or sneeze; washing hands frequently; avoiding those who are sick, when possible; and staying home when ill.

3)    Take antiviral drugs if recommended by your doctor.

Health officials say persons who should get the flu vaccine include children 6 months through 18 years of age -- to protect themselves as well as those vulnerable persons around them who may be at risk for complications from influenza.  The vaccine is also recommended for pregnant women, anyone age 50 or older, persons of any age with chronic medical conditions, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and those who live with or care for persons at high risk of flu complications, especially health care workers.

Although there is no charge for getting a flu shot from a county health department, voluntary donations will be accepted to help offset the costs of vaccine and administering the vaccine.

Each year about 60 million Americans get the flu, resulting in about 36,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations. The flu vaccine protects against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. This year’s influenza vaccine contains three new influenza virus strains: A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1)-like virus; A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like virus; and B/Florida/4/2006-like virus. The protection provided by the flu vaccine should last about a year.

In addition to getting a flu vaccination, persons 65 and older and those with chronic health conditions should ask their doctor if they should be vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia, which is a common and potentially serious complication of the flu. Unlike the influenza vaccine, the pneumococcal vaccine does not need to be given every year. This vaccine is available at physicians’ offices and county health departments.

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