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For Release: November 17, 2009                                                               
Contact:  Pam Williams                        
Office of Communications                        

H1N1 Vaccine Available To All Oklahomans

State health officials announced today that all Oklahomans who want to reduce their risk of H1N1 infection are now eligible to receive H1N1 influenza vaccine.  While vaccine supplies remain limited, demand from priority groups has dipped to a point where all Oklahomans can begin to receive vaccine.

 “While we continue to emphasize the importance of vaccination for the priority groups, especially children and pregnant women, we are going to begin to vaccinate the general population today,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley.  “Vaccination continues to be the best way to protect yourself from the H1N1 flu and slow the spread of this pandemic.  H1N1 influenza activity has been widespread in Oklahoma since early September and even though statewide monitoring has recently shown a decline in influenza-linked hospitalizations, this virus is expected to circulate throughout the winter months. The possibility also exists that another surge of H1N1 flu may follow the current one.” 

Since September 1, 890 Oklahomans have been hospitalized due to complications from influenza and 27 persons have died. Ninety percent of the H1N1-related deaths have been persons less than 65 years old. This finding contrasts significantly with seasonal flu which tends to cause the greatest proportion of deaths among persons older than 65 years. The best protection against getting the flu is to receive both the vaccine for H1N1 flu and seasonal flu. 

Oklahomans seeking the H1N1 vaccine are encouraged to check with their physician’s office or county health department.  The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) expects an additional 90,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine to be delivered to the state this week. The doses include both nasal spray and injectable vaccines. Supplies remain limited and the state expects to continue to receive vaccine through January.

For more information about the availability of H1N1 influenza vaccine in your area, call your local county health department or visit www.health.ok.gov.  The Oklahoma State Department of Health toll-free H1N1 hotline is 1-866-278-7134. Phones are answered Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.



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