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For Release:  Nov. 29, 2011 - Pamela Williams, Office of Communications - (405) 271-5601 

Spread the Holiday Spirit – Not the Flu – This Holiday Season

Make sure the gifts you give this holiday season don’t include the flu by getting your annual flu vaccination.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reminds you that getting a flu vaccination now might keep your holidays from being miserable and more importantly, will help keep your loved ones safe from the flu as well.

“Not only does the flu vaccine protect the individual who receives it, it also reduces the chance of spreading the flu to those who may not yet have been vaccinated, including babies too young to receive a vaccination,” said Ken Cadaret, interim chief, OSDH Immunization Service. “People who have the flu can spread it to others even before they feel sick.”

Cadaret noted that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year with the flu. “Now is the time to get the flu shot – before your holidays are ruined by a week of feeling lousy from the flu or worse,” he urged.

An annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. The vaccine is available as a shot or nasal spray. Choices for flu shots include the regular flu shot, the new intradermal flu shot and a high-dose flu shot for older Oklahomans. While the regular flu shot can be given to everyone, the intradermal flu shot is approved only for use in adults 18 through 64 years of age while the high-dose flu shot is for people 65 years of age and older.  The nasal spray vaccine is approved only for use in healthy people ages 2 through 49 years of age who aren’t pregnant.

“Flu shots are widely available this year from your county health departments, your personal physician, and other outlets,” Cadaret said.  “There’s no reason to leave a healthy winter off your shopping list.”

The OSDH encourages all Oklahomans who have not yet received the flu vaccine to get one during National Influenza Vaccination Week Dec. 4-10.

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