Oklahoma Releases Flu Numbers In Start Of Season

Thursday, December 13th 2012, 5:22 pm

As nearby states are reporting high numbers of flu cases, Oklahoma released their flu numbers Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control is saying nationwide this flu season has had its earliest start in nearly a decade. Although Oklahoma is on the same pace as previous years, those in the know say it could get much worse.

When it comes to the flu this year, Betty Shedrick isn't taking any chances. She got a flu shot.

"Every year I get one. I think it's important," said Shedrick.

Getting immunized is a wise choice, say health officials, including Betty's pharmacist.

"We haven't seen a heavy flu season for about five years, so we're do," said Dani Lynch, pharmacist with Thrifty Pharmacy.

Read more about Oklahoma's Flu numbers.

The CDC says nearby Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee are all reporting higher than normal numbers of flu cases. 

In Oklahoma, 30 people have been hospitalized because of the flu. There have been no reported deaths.

"Flu is slowly increasing, but at this point we are where we expect to be," said Becky Coffman, the nurse epidemiologist with the Oklahoma Department of Health. 

Federal Health officials say the most common strain this year tends to make people sicker than usual, but this year's flu vaccine seems to protect against it. 

Health workers also say we need wash our hands frequently, cover our cough, and stay home if we're sick. The flu is contagious if someone infected sneezes or coughs within three to six feet of you, or on something you later touch.

"Keep your hands away from your face, your mouth and get the flu shot definitely," said Lynch.

You can still get the flu shot. It takes about two weeks for it to take effect. Flu activity typically peaks around January through March in Oklahoma.

The 2012 flu season has just begun and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) already reported five influenza-associated pediatric deaths.