Flu season is around the corner and public health influenza vaccination clinics will begin soon at county health departments throughout the state.
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age or older. Pregnant women and people with asthma, diabetes, chronic heart and lung disease, or other chronic conditions are especially encouraged to get the vaccine. Parents and family members of babies younger than 6 months of age and people who live with or care for anyone at high risk for complications from the flu, including health care workers, should also get the vaccine.
"Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. "Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others."
A wide variety of flu vaccines are available at most local county health departments. The nasal spray flu vaccine is available for use in most healthy people 2 through 49 years of age. Intradermal vaccine with a needle that is 90 percent smaller than the needles used for giving regular flu shots is available for persons 18 through 64 years of age. A high-dose vaccine that is stronger than regular flu vaccine is available for people 65 years of age and older.
"An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and reduces the possibility that you will spread flu to others," said Dr. Cline. "When more people get vaccinated against the flu, then the less opportunity flu has to spread throughout the community."
Influenza vaccine formulations generally change each year based on samples collected of viruses circulated throughout the world. While the H1N1 virus used to make the 2012-2013 flu vaccine is the same virus that was included in the 2011-2012 vaccine, the recommended influenza H3N2 and B vaccine viruses are different to protect against the strains most likely to cause illness this year. A flu vaccination received last year will not provide protection this year.
Beginning on Monday, October 1, local county health departments will provide flu vaccine using the following fee schedule:
Many county health departments will also be providing pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine for people 65 years of age and older and those with chronic health conditions. Pneumococcal pneumonia is a potentially serious complication of the flu.
Find out more about the flu and clinics throughout Oklahoma.