Six new Oklahoma flu deaths reported

Six new Oklahoma flu deaths were reported to the state Health Department this past week, quadrupling the state's death toll for the current flu season.
by Randy Ellis Published: January 10, 2013
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State health officials continue to urge Oklahomans to get flu shots.

“Some people think it's too late, but it's not,” said Bobbie Nubine, chief of immunization services for the state Health Department.

Immunizations' effectiveness

Flu shots become effective about two weeks after they are administered, while nasal flu mist becomes effective in three days, she said.

Flu immunizations won't necessarily prevent someone from getting the flu, but they will lessen the symptoms, she said.

While Oklahomans have complained of spot vaccine shortages at some pharmacies and doctors' offices, Nubine said vaccines are still available at county health departments and many other locations.

She advised calling ahead to verify availability.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department reported a steady stream of Oklahomans lining up for flu shots Thursday.

8 deaths in state

Of the eight Oklahoma flu deaths to date:

• Three have occurred in Tulsa County and one, each, has been reported in Creek, Mayes, Muskogee, Pittsburg and Rogers counties.

• Four of those individuals were from 19 to 64 years old and the other four were 65 or older.

Hospitalizations

Tulsa County also reported the most people hospitalized with flu symptoms, 115, followed by Oklahoma County with 43 and Creek County with 17.

by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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AT A GLANCE

Who is at risk?

Among patients experiencing the most trouble are people who had pre-existing pulmonary issues, heart problems, asthma and the elderly, said Thomas Ingmire, an emergency room doctor at Presbyterian Hospital.

Young people who are healthy before they catch the flu can often weather the illness without medical assistance as long as they make sure they stay hydrated and keep there temperatures under control, Ingmire said.

However, health officials say people who feel extremely sick and people at high risk of complications, including young children, elderly persons, pregnant women and people with certain pre-existing medical conditions, should seek advice from their health providers.

What are the symptoms?

Typical flu symptoms include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue.

What are warning signs?

Health officials said parents should be on the lookout for the following emergency warnings signs in children with the flu:

• Fast breathing or trouble breathing.

• Bluish skin color.

• Not drinking enough fluids.

• Not waking up or interacting.

• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held.

• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough.

• Fever with a rash.

Seek medical help immediately for any infant who is unable to eat, has trouble breathing, has no tears when crying or has significantly fewer wet diapers than normal, officials said.

Randy Ellis, Staff Writer

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