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Flu-Related Deaths In Oklahoma Approaching 200

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

The total number of flu-related deaths in Oklahoma is now up to 194, according to the state health department's weekly flu summary.

The current flu season began on Sept. 1, 2017. Approximately 4,119 hospitalizations have been reported since flu season began. According to health officials, the 194 flu deaths this season is a record for the state.

February saw the first reported pediatric death related to the flu. The death was an Oklahoma County resident between the ages of 5 to 18.

Oklahoma is one of several states reporting widespread influenza activity, with children being especially hit hard. A shortage of Tami-Flu is also complicating matters.

Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus which is spread by infected people coughing, sneezing or touching a surface handled by others. Its impact can be severe in some cases, especially among seniors, young children, pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions, according to the CDC.

The CDC states the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. Although some news sources have reported this year's vaccine is only expected to be 10 percent effect, CDC experts say that is incorrect for the U.S.

"The 10 percent vaccine effectiveness (VE) figure reported in the news is an Australian interim estimate of the vaccine’s benefit against one flu virus (the H3N2 virus) that circulated in Australia during its most recent flu season," the website states.

The CDC said they believe in the U.S., a better indicator is the vaccine's effectiveness last year. That was 39 percent overall.

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