The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) will offer flu vaccine statewide beginning Oct. 1 at all county health department locations. Flu shots will be provided at no out-of-pocket cost to recipients. Those with insurance are asked to provide their card showing coverage.
The Sequoyah County Health Department in Sallisaw confirmed the free flu vaccinations will be offered beginning Monday, but they ask clients to call first to confirm availability. The phone number is 918-775-6201.
A flu vaccination is recommended each year for everyone 6 months of age and older. When more people are vaccinated against the flu, there is less opportunity for flu to spread in families, schools and communities. The flu vaccine is formulated each year to keep up with flu viruses as they change. Also a yearly flu shot is needed because a person’s immune protection from being vaccinated decreases after a year, and yearly vaccination provides the best protection against the flu through the entire flu season.
OSDH Interim Commissioner Tom Bates will help kickoff the effort by getting his immunization at the Rogers County Health Department in Claremore on Oct. 3.
“We are encouraging everyone to get their flu vaccination and we hope this effort to provide the shots at no out-of-pocket cost to recipients will make it more accessible,” said Bates. “The last season was especially devastating and we want to ensure that as many people as possible can receive the added protection that the flu vaccine provides.”
Last flu season there were 291 deaths and 4,819 hospitalizations between September 2017 and May 2018.
In addition to getting a flu shot, public health officials recommend the following prevention tips:
*Adopt a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and getting a full night’s rest.
*Wash hands frequently using soap and water, or alcohol-based products such as hand gels when hands are not visibly soiled.
*Use tissues to cover coughs and sneezes, then dispose of them and wash your hands immediately. When tissues are not readily available, cough into your sleeve, not your hands.
*Stay home from work, school and other public places when feeling ill.
For more information, call the local county health department or visit the OSDH website at www.health.ok.gov to get locations for your local county health department.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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