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Flu shots to be available soon at health department

October 14, 2011

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There is no better time than now to receive your annual flu shot, according to state health officials.  

"As much as 10 percent of the U.S. Workforce will get the flu this year, with 17 million workdays lost as a result," said State Health Department Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline.  "Receiving a flu vaccination from your local county health department, your physician, or any of the many places flu shots are available, is absolutely the best way for Oklahomans and their families to stay healthy this winter."

Beginning October the 10th, flu shots will be available at the Pushmataha County Health Department every Monday and Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.  Persons at high risk of serious complications from flu are strongly encouraged to get a flu shot, including pregnant women and people with asthma, diabetes, chronic heart and lung disease, or other chronic conditions.  Parents and family members of babies younger than 6 months old and people who live with or care for anyone at high risk of complications from the flu, including health care workers, should also get vaccinated. Vaccine protection declines over time, so an annual flu shot is needed to assure better protection.

"Flu can be a dangerous disease for people of all ages, even healthy children and adults," said Cline.  "WE encourage every Oklahoman to protect themselves and their families by getting their annual flu shot as soon as possible.  There's no better time than now."

Flu can also be expensive, with the direct medical care costs for adults with flu totaling $8.7 billion annually, including $4.5 billion for adults hospitalized due to flu-related illness.  

Beginning October 3, local county health departments will be providing flu vaccine using the following fee schedule:  No charge for families who whose income is less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level, No charge for adults 65 and older, no charge for children who whose insurance, or are on SoonerCare or are Native American or Alaskan natives, or children whose insurance does not cover vaccines, no charge to persons enrolled in HealthChoice and the Oklahoma Public Employees Health and Welfare insurance plans who present their insurance cards, children and adults with health issuance that covers vaccines and those with incomes about 185% of the poverty level will by charged a fee of $25.00 for flue vaccine to cover the cost of the vaccine and the cost of administering it, cash, checks and credit cards are accepted for payment.

High-dose flu vaccine, a vaccine with four times the antigen than regular flu vaccine, will be available at county health departments for persons 65 years and older. The high-dose vaccine should provide more protection, although it may come with a slightly high chance for typical side effects like sore arm, headache and low fever.

In addition to getting flu vaccination, persons 65 and older and those with chronic health conditions should ask their doctor if they should be vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia, if they have not already received a dose. Pneumococcal pneumonia is a common and potentially serious complication of the flu. Unlike influenza vaccine, the pneumococcal vaccine does not need to be given every year.

Don’t forget that the Pushmataha County Health Department will start giving flu vaccines beginning on October 10th every Monday and Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Please call 580-298-6624 for any questions.

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