With four cases of influenza in Oklahoma reported this flu season, it's a little early to predict what kind of season residents should expect, a state Health Department official said.
Thus far, Oklahoma is seeing a typical flu season, said Laurence Burnsed, director of the communicable disease division at the Health Department.
Since Sept. 30, four residents have been hospitalized because of the flu, according to state Health Department data. Two of those cases occurred last week.
Burnsed, an epidemiologist, said if anything, flu activity in the state thus far has been light.
The state Health Department partners with 21 physicians across Oklahoma to collect data about patients who show flulike symptoms. Last week, about 2.5 percent of patients who saw these doctors showed flulike symptoms.
However, it's important for people to get vaccinated and also wash their hands, cover their mouths when they cough and stay at home when sick.
“People need to be aware that it's important to already be communicating with their doctor or calling the county health department for their flu shot,” Burnsed said.
Young children, pregnant women and adults with chronic health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, are most at risk of developing serious complications related to the flu. It's important for parents and people around young children to get their flu shot, he said.
Anyone older than 6 months is encouraged to get a flu vaccine. Doctors' offices, county health departments and some pharmacies offer the flu vaccine, and some offer the vaccine through a nasal mist, similar to nasal spray. A high-dose flu vaccination is available for people older than 65 to offer extra protection. Also, some clinics have an intradermal flu shot that uses a smaller needle.