By Chelcey Adami
STILLWATER, Okla. — Since last September, 40 Oklahomans have died from swine flu - H1N1, Payne County Health Department spokesman Larry Weatherford said.
None of those deaths were in Payne County.
“Right now, the prevailing influenza is the H1N1, and that’s why we’re saying the absolute best way to prevent the flu is to get the H1N1 flu shot,” Weatherford said.
Vaccines for both swine flu and seasonal flu are free at the Payne County Health Department, 1321 West Seventh Ave. The health department is open 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Friday 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Shots are also available at the Payne County Health Department in Cushing, 1026 N. Linwood, Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
“It’s still very important for people to get these vaccines,” Payne County Health Department Coordinating Nurse Janie Osborne said. “We still haven’t reached our peak of the flu season, which is in January and February.”
The Oklahoma State Department of Health said there’s been a rise in questions regarding whether mothers should breastfeed when sick with the flu.
“Yes, mothers provide immunity that only they can give their babies when they breastfeed,” registered lactation consultant and Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline Coordinator Cristina Pickle said. “Exclusive breastfeeding conveys the greatest amount of protection.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a mother with seasonal or H1N1 flu should drink plenty of fluids, rest, continue to breastfeed, and monitor herself for any fever. Mothers should wash hands often and wear masks when nursing their babies, to prevent sharing the virus with their babies. If symptoms worsen, mothers should contact their health care providers.
For more information, call the Oklahoma Breastfeeding Hotline at 1-877-271-6455.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention planned to present “Protect Yourself, Protect Your Baby: A Bloginar about Pregnancy and Flu” today from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. EST featuring several speakers followed by a question-and-answer session.
If interested or to e-mail questions before or during the webinar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-972-5886, pass code 7276457.
If you have questions, contact the Oklahoma H1N1 hotline toll-free at 1-866-278-7134 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The World Health Organization has at least 6,880 reported deaths in the Americas from the influenza H1N1 pandemic, according to its latest report.