Influenza shots still urged
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Friday, December 11, 2009
12/11/09 at 4:48 AM
For more on swine flu including
prevention tips and frequently
Although the number of people hospitalized from novel H1N1 or swine flu has continued to wane, one Oklahoman died from the flu last week, according to the State Department of Health.
A Garfield County man became the 36th person in Oklahoma to die of swine flu since Sept. 1, according to the health department. A Kay County man died before the health department started tracking deaths, bringing the state's total to 37.
There were only 21 people hospitalized for flu-related illnesses last week, a sharp decrease from the peak in mid-October when more than 100 people were hospitalized in one week.
More than 1,000 people have been hospitalized for flu-related illnesses since Sept. 1, said Larry Weatherford, the state health department's spokesman.
October also was the peak for swine flu deaths. Ten people died the week ending on Oct. 24.
Weatherford said influenza typically comes and goes in waves.
"There was a wave (of swine flu) in spring and then died down in the summer then peaked about six weeks ago," he said.
The state's slowdown of swine flu deaths and hospitalizations mirrors the national trend.
Health officials are still urging people to get swine flu and seasonal flu vaccinations.
"We are concerned we may see another wave come through. People in Oklahoma are still catching H1N1. People are still getting sick out there," Weatherford said. "The best way to prevent the flu is get vaccinated both for H1N1 and seasonal flu."
Melanie Christian, spokeswoman for the Tulsa-City County Health Department, said a lot of comparisons are being made between this recent outbreak of swine flu and past novel flu outbreaks, which usually have three peak cycles.
"It's not unimaginable that we could have a third wave," Christian said. "The virus is still circulating. It's not too late to get vaccinated."
It may be especially important this time of year, when viruses can spread more easily.
"It's so cold people are staying indoors, people are congregating at holiday parties," she said. "There's more potential to spread."
More than 10 percent of the population in Oklahoma has received the H1N1 vaccine, Weatherford said.
The Tulsa health department has administered almost 40,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine and given private health providers more than 49,000 doses, Christian said.
"We've got plenty of vaccine at this time," she said, and urged people who haven't been vaccinated to go to one of the health care centers administering the vaccine or to the free clinic Saturday at the Mabee Center. "It's the holidays and people's minds may not be on getting vaccinated."
County health departments throughout Oklahoma also received the last shipment of seasonal flu vaccines this week through the state health department. The Tulsa City-County health center began administering those vaccinations Monday.
County health departments administer 15 percent of seasonal flu vaccines each year, Weatherford said.
"Most people get it from a pharmacy or their doctor," he said. Seasonal flu typically peaks in January and February.
The state's swine flu count stayed the same this week because the state health department retracted a previously reported death in Kiowa County because it wasn't a laboratory confirmed case.
H1N1 flu clinic set
When: 9 a.m.-noon
Where: Oral Roberts
University Mabee Center,
7777 S. Lewis Ave.
Who: Tulsa City-County
Info: Download and fill
out paperwork before going
to the clinic at tulsaworld.com/healthdepartment
Vaccinations for high-risk groups
What: Seasonal and H1N1
Who: Pregnant women,
children — including those
who need the booster,
people older than 64 and
those with limited mobility
When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursdays
and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Fridays
Where: James O Goodwin
Health Center at 5051
S. 129th East Ave.; Central
Regional Health Center at
315 S. Utica Ave.; and Expo
Square Health Center at 616
E. 15th St.
The state’s H1N1 hot line
is (866) 278-7134 and is
answered 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday through Friday.
Source: Tulsa City-County Health
Department and Oklahoma State
Department of Health
Sara Plummer 581-8465