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Osage County Health Department: Flu widespread, shots still available

The Osage County Health Department reminds the public that it is not too late to benefit from a flu vaccination. Influenza activity in Oklahoma is currently classified as “widespread,” as more influenza virus infections have been confirmed in communities across the state. This season, five persons have died from flu-related illness and 242 persons have been hospitalized from complications due to the flu in the state. This is just the beginning of widespread activity and further increases in flu activity across the state are expected in the coming weeks.

The 2009 H1N1 flu virus continues to be the dominate strain circulating, affecting young and middle-aged adults more than usual. Young and middle-aged adults; people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or neurological conditions; pregnant women; children younger than five years; or anyone with a weakened immune system are at higher risk from the H1N1 flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received several reports of severe flu illness among young and middle-aged adults, many of whom were infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus.

“We still have flu vaccine available,” said Mary Beth Murray, County Health Department Administrator. Appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day except Thursday.

All of the flu vaccines produced this year offer protection against the H1N1 virus. Flu is also still widely available at doctor’s offices and pharmacies. Use the Flu Vaccine Finder at: http://flushot.healthmap.org/ to find a location near you.

“The flu vaccine provides the best form of protection and reduces the chance of spreading the flu to persons who have not been vaccinated, including babies too young to receive a vaccination,” said Murray. “Persons who have the flu can spread it to others even before they feel sick.”

Persons who already have the flu can spread it to others even before they feel sick. You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:

Fever (although not everyone with flu will have a fever), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue

Parents should be aware of children with emergency warning signs of flu including the following: Fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, not waking up or not interacting, being irritable, flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough, fever with a rash

Seek medical help right away for any infant who is unable to eat, has trouble breathing, has no tears when crying, and has significantly fewer wet diapers than normal.

Call the Osage County Health Department at 918 287-3740 for more information about flu vaccine.

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