Special to The Sun
OKLA. CITY —
With high flu activity likely to continue in Oklahoma for several weeks, Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday urged residents to take health precautions and reminded those who haven’t yet done so to receive their flu vaccination.
So far this flu season, 33 Oklahomans — up from 25 a week ago —have died from the flu, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health. The agency also reported that 975 have been hospitalized since the flu season began in late September.
“There are simple, immediate steps we all can take to prevent the flu from spreading,” Fallin said. “We should all be washing our hands and staying home if feeling sick. And for those who haven’t done so it’s not too late to get the flu vaccination.”
Health Commissioner Terry Cline, who also serves as secretary of health and human services on Fallin’s Cabinet, said flu can be a serious disease for anyone, including healthy young adults.
“Flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu and reduces the chance of spreading flu to persons who have not been vaccinated, including babies too young to receive a vaccination,” Cline said. “This year’s vaccine is generally well-matched to the circulating strain. Many local county health departments, pharmacies and health care providers still have vaccine.”
State health officials recommend all persons 6 months of age and older get the vaccine to protect themselves and those around them from influenza, especially babies too young to receive a vaccination. While it may take up to two weeks for those who receive the vaccination to be fully protected, it’s not too late to get that protection, as flu season in Oklahoma can continue into early spring.
Cline said Oklahomans also should practice good health habits to help prevent the spread of germs during cold and influenza season:
• Wash your hands well and often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizers if soap and water are not available.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If tissues are not available, cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not your hands.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
Health officials said Oklahomans who do get sick with influenza symptoms should contact their health care provider. Medications are available to help treat the symptoms of influenza if caught early on.