The flu continues to be widespread as the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and the OKC-County Health Department (OCCHD) report the first pediatric death associated with the flu since the season began in September. The death occurred in an Oklahoma County resident between the ages of 5-17.
This week’s flu report indicates 1,244 flu-associated hospitalizations and 31 deaths so far this season. Public health officials remind the public that there are several months remaining in the flu season, and the number of hospitalizations and deaths will continue to increase. A flu shot is encouraged for anyone over the age of 6 months who hasn’t already received one.
“Young children are among those most at risk for serious illness and death from influenza, so healthy individuals who get a flu shot are helping to protect those who cannot take a flu shot, including infants under the age of 6 months,” said OCCHD Executive Director Gary Cox. “Another benefit to getting the flu vaccine is that if you do by chance get the flu, your illness will be much milder than if you had not received a vaccine.”
For the current 2018-19 flu season, more than 500 Oklahomans over the age of 65, and more than 200 under the age of 18 have been hospitalized. More than 20 people over the age of 65 have died from flu-related complications.
In effort to reduce the number of hospitalizations and deaths, flu shots continue to be offered at no out-of-pocket cost statewide at all county health department sites.