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For Release: Sept. 29, 2011 – Larry Weatherford, Office of Communications – (405) 271-5601

No Time Like Now For Flu Shots                                             

There’s no better time than now to receive your annual flu shot, according to state health officials.

“As much as 10 percent of the U.S. workforce will get the flu this year, with 17 million workdays lost as a result,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline.  “Receiving a flu vaccination from your local county health department, your physician, or any of the many places flu shots are available, is absolutely the best way for Oklahomans and their families to stay healthy this winter.”

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. Persons at high risk of serious complications from flu are strongly encouraged to get a flu shot, including pregnant women and people with asthma, diabetes, chronic heart and lung disease, or other chronic conditions. Parents and family members of babies younger than 6 months of age and people who live with or care for anyone at high risk for complications from the flu, including health care workers, should also get the vaccine. Vaccine protection declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed to assure the best protection.

“Flu can be a dangerous disease for people of all ages, even healthy children and adults,” said Cline. "We encourage every Oklahoman to protect themselves and their families by getting their annual flu shot as soon as possible. There’s no better time than now.”

Flu can also be expensive, with the direct medical care costs for adults with flu totaling $8.7 billion annually, including $4.5 billion for adults hospitalized due to flu-related illness.

Beginning Oct. 3, local county health departments will be providing flu vaccine using the following fee schedule:

  • No charge for families whose income is less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • No charge for adults 65 years of age and older.
  • No charge for children who have no health insurance, or are on SoonerCare or are Native American or Alaskan natives, or children whose insurance does not cover vaccines.
  • No charge for persons enrolled in HealthChoice and the Oklahoma Public Employees Health and Welfare insurance plans who present their insurance cards.
  • Children and adults with health insurance that covers vaccines and those with incomes above 185 percent of the poverty level will be charged a fee of $25.00 for flu vaccine to cover the cost of the vaccine and the cost of administering the vaccine. 
  • Cash, check and credit cards are accepted for payment.

High-dose flu vaccine, a vaccine with four times the antigen than regular flu vaccine, will be available at county health departments for persons 65 and older. The high-dose vaccine should provide more protection, although it may come with a slightly higher chance for typical side effects like sore arm, headache, and low fever.

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, if they have not already received a dose.  Pneumococcal pneumonia 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.

For more information, call your local county health department or visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health website at www.health.ok.gov .

 

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