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Record number of flu deaths confirmed in Oklahoma

The state Health Department confirmed Thursday that four more Oklahomans have died from the flu, bringing the state’s total number of flu deaths to 48 since September.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: February 21, 2014 at 11:00 am •  Published: February 20, 2014

The CDC reported Thursday that people ages 18 to 64 represented 61 percent of all hospitalizations from the flu, up from the previous three seasons when this age group represented only about 35 percent of all such hospitalizations.

Flu deaths followed the same pattern, with more deaths than usual occurring in this younger age group, according to the CDC.

Data also released Thursday shows that flu shots this season offer “substantial protection against the flu this season,” reducing a vaccinated person’s risk of having to go to the doctor for flu illness by about 60 percent across all ages, according to the federal agency.

“Flu hospitalizations and deaths in people younger and middle-aged adults is a sad and difficult reminder that flu can be serious for anyone, not just the very young and old, and that everyone should be vaccinated,” Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director, said in a statement Thursday. “The good news is that this season's vaccine is doing its job, protecting people across all age groups.”

Nationally, flu deaths this season are following a pattern a similar to the pandemic, according to CDC. People 25 years to 64 years of age have accounted for about 60 percent of flu deaths this season compared with 18 percent, 30 percent, and 47 percent for the three previous seasons, respectively, according to CDC.

In Oklahoma, 31 deaths were among people between 18 and 64, almost 65 percent of the deaths confirmed thus far this flu season, according to Health Department data.

Additionally, about half of residents who have been hospitalized since September because of the flu were between 18 and 64.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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