Five more Oklahomans were confirmed to have died because of the flu, the state Health Department reported Thursday.
This flu season, 25 Oklahomans have died from the flu, including two children. This time last year 17 Oklahomans were confirmed to have died of the flu.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that causes mild to severe illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a preventable illness.
Since Sept. 29, a total of 819 Oklahoma residents have been hospitalized because of the flu.
The highest rates of illness have been among children younger than 4 and adults 65 or older. These two populations are both at high risk of developing serious complications and are especially recommended to get flu shots, according to CDC.
Health officials say there's still time for Oklahomans to get their flu shots.
“People need to be aware that the data is showing that we are still in an elevated level of activity of flu in this state,” said Laurence Burnsed, director of the Health Department's communicable disease division.
Residents can get flu shots at county health departments, along with some pharmacies, clinics and doctor offices.
Programs at county health departments offer flu shots at no charge to some low-income residents.
For example, children who are eligible for Medicaid, uninsured, underinsured, American Indian or Alaska Natives can receive flu shots through the federally funded Vaccines for Children program.
Underinsured children are eligible to receive vaccines only at federally qualified health centers, such as a Variety Care clinic or Mary Mahoney Memorial Health Center, along with rural health clinics, such as Mercy's Guthrie clinic.