Tulsa Health Experts Seeing Increase in Respiratory Viruses Ahead of Thanksgiving Holiday


Monday, November 21st 2022, 4:38 pm



Health experts in Tulsa said they are seeing an increase in flu cases and other respiratory viruses right now, just before Thanksgiving. 

Some patients might have been sick with COVID and then get sick again with the flu. At Hillcrest Medical Center, Emergency Physician Dr. Jeff Johnson is busy seeing patients with all kinds of respiratory illnesses this season. 

"The most troublesome right now is our RSV infections with pediatrics, so we're seeing a lot of kids get really sick. We have a hospital overcrowding problem,” Johnson said.  

News On 6 asked Johnson if having COVID, then the flu right after, could make the flu more challenging to fight. 

 "I don't know that we know for sure that COVID is gonna make your flu symptoms worse, but if COVID did damage to your lungs, which in some people it does, then potentially other respiratory illnesses could be worse for you,” he said. "We've really seen that in the flu historically. A lot of people will get a flu infection then a week or so later they can get a bacterial infection and pneumonia, which can be devastating." 

 "It's just important knowing that there are multiple things that are circulating around right now,” Tulsa Health Department Epidemiology Supervisor Madison Thomas said. 

 Thomas said THD has seen an increase in flu cases, while COVID has plateaued for now. 

 The department reports 43 flu hospitalizations and two flu deaths this season in Tulsa County. 

 "It is important to get your COVID shot and your flu shot. They're different viruses,” she said. “You can potentially get them both. And that's never good to be able to have multiple things going on at the same time. So you know, do what you can." 

 Experts said it takes about two weeks after getting the shot, for both the COVID and flu vaccines to give you full protection. 

 The Tulsa Health Department said right now in Oklahoma, the majority of tests were positive for flu A, which is in line with national trends. 

THD said it is still too early to say if this year's vaccine is a "good match," but, it covers four different strains, so the department said it offers a wide range of protection. “Even if the vaccine isn’t a ‘good match,’ it will protect against severe disease from flu that could result in hospitalization or death,” Thomas said.  

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