Oklahomans Take Steps To Avoid The Flu As Peak Season Begins

Friday, December 28th 2012, 5:53 pm
By: News On 6

Just this week, Oklahoma had its first flu death and the number of people being hospitalized for the flu is on the rise. So far 75 people in Oklahoma have been hospitalized because of the flu this year, and we're just now entering the peak of the season.

There are plenty of things you can do to help avoid catching the virus, and it's not just the flu shot.

Dr. Pat Daley gave little 7-month old Boston his first flu shot Friday. And the timing couldn't be better - cases on influenza are on the rise.

"It just started; I had three positive tests this morning," said Dr. Pat Daley, pediatrician.

The vaccine has been in high demand lately, but it's not the only option. Dr. Daley says he often prefers the flu mist and uses it himself.

12/27/2012 Related Story: Tulsa County Records Oklahoma's First Influenza Death This Season

"I think it works better, I think it lasts longer, and I really think it goes to work sooner," he said. "We had one of our kids get on it real early, the next day they were better."

There is a small risk with the flu mist because it is a live virus.

Kelly Vanbuskirk is with the Tulsa County Health Department.

"Peak season is usually January to February, so we are seeing cases a little bit earlier," Vanbuskirk said.

She says seeing cases this early isn't uncommon, and that so far 24 people in Tulsa County have been hospitalized because of the flu since September.

"The hospitalizations that we've seen have been in younger children, and then also older adults, so its just kind of across the board," she said.

She says this time of year, is partly to blame for rise in flu cases.

"Kids are in school, the gathering of the holidays, families are in closer vicinities and smaller confined areas," Vanbuskirk said.

And while most preventative measures may be common knowledge, Kelly Vanbuskirk says it never hurts to re-stress the importance of getting the flu vaccine.

"By taking care of yourself, you're gonna help take care of those around you," she said.

"My gut is, if you got it, you're really gonna do pretty well this year," said Dr. Pat Daley.

The peak of the flu season normally lasts until February, but the Tulsa County Health Department says its not uncommon to see cases as late as May.

And with one of this year's strains keeping some people sick for up to 10 days, they say its never too late to get the flu shot.