“Some people think it's too late, but it's not,” said Bobbie Nubine, chief of immunization services for the state Health Department.
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.
Tulsa County also reported the most people hospitalized with flu symptoms, 115, followed by Oklahoma County with 43 and Creek County with 17.
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.