The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is reporting three laboratory-confirmed cases of flu in Oklahoma, all of which were influenza A H3. Two of the confirmed cases were from Tulsa County, including one hospitalization, and one case was from Oklahoma County.  According to the OSDH Sentinel Influenza Surveillance System, the percentage of influenza-like illness among outpatients indicates that influenza activity is elevated in Tulsa County. OSDH urges all Oklahomans to get an influenza immunization if they have not already done so.

generic influenza virion
3D influenza/CDC

An annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.  “If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to get your flu shot before influenza begins to spread more widely,” said Laurence Burnsed, MPH, OSDH epidemiologist. “Persons who have the flu can spread it to others even before they feel sick. The flu vaccine provides the best protection for the individual who receives it and reduces the chance of spreading the flu to persons who have not been vaccinated, including babies too young to receive a vaccination.”

Vaccination is especially important for those persons at high risk from flu complications including children less than five years of age and persons age 65 years and older.  Pregnant women should also receive a flu vaccination, as it not only protects the mother but also protects the baby for up to 6 months. Since influenza is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women and newborns, this protection is important. Flu vaccination is safe during pregnancy, after delivery, and for breastfeeding women.  Persons that are 50-64 years of age with underlying medical conditions such as chronic lung disease (asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions, other long-term health conditions are at increased risk of more severe influenza disease and hospitalization and should receive a flu vaccination.

The CDC says flu vaccines are designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will be the most common during the upcoming season. Three kinds of flu viruses commonly circulate among people today: influenza A (H1N1) viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses.

All of the 2015-2016 influenza vaccine is made to protect against the following three viruses:

  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • an A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus. (This is a B/Yamagata lineage virus)

Some of the 2015-2016 flu vaccine is quadrivalent vaccine and also protects against an additional B virus (B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus). This is a B/Victoria lineage virus.

In addition to getting your flu shot, the OSDH reminds you to follow these prevention tips:

·         Frequent hand hygiene using soap and water, or alcohol-based products
such as hand gels when hands are not visibly soiled;

·         Make “respiratory hygiene” a habit, including use of tissues to cover
coughs and sneezes, then disposing of them and performing hand
hygiene at once. When tissues are not readily available, use your sleeve, never your hands;

·       Stay home from work, school, and  other public places when you are ill.