State Officials: Flu Season Just Starting To Peak As Hospitalizations Increase
TULSA, Oklahoma - Thursday, the State Health Department reported a child from Rogers County died from the flu; it's the third death from the flu this season.
The death in Rogers County was unusual in that it was a young person when, usually, the flu is most likely to kill someone over 65.
State officials said the flu season is just beginning to peak, and hospitalizations are on the increase and that this year is already worse than the last.
The State Health Department is tracking the trend as flu begins to take hold following the holidays when people are more likely to be exposed.
Last year was less severe than usual.
State Health Department epidemiologist Kendra Dougherty said, "You typically peak in January, early, so this is about where I'd expect us to be."
This season, 152 people have been hospitalized with the flu, and three died.
Last year, in the first week of January, 56 people had been hospitalized, but none died. The year before was much worse than both combined - 805 hospitalized and 22 people dead.
Dougherty said, "It was not very good vaccine coverage that year, and it was an early season, we already had hundreds of hospitalizations by this time."
This year, the vaccination is believed to offer better protection, but that's only for people who have it.
While the "mist" is no longer recommended, the regular vaccine is widely available at health departments and private clinics.
Many health insurance policies cover the full cost - without it, the vaccine is available for about $25.
The vaccine does not offer instant protection. It takes about two weeks to take full effect, but since flu season usually goes into April, that's still a significant time to risk exposure.