By Chase Rheam
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Oklahoma State Department of Health released new statistics Thursday that eight people have died and 345 people have been hospitalized from influenza since Sept. 30, 2012.
According to the release, the eight people who died were in Tulsa, Creek, Mayes, Muskogee, Pittsburg and Rogers counties.
Public Information Officer with the Payne County Health Department Priscilla Smith gave tips on what to do if you believe you have the flu. She said going to the doctor, who may give a prescription to help. Once you receive medication, Smith said you should stay home, if at all possible.
"Do not go out and share it with all your friends and neighbors," she said. "(Drink) more fluids, take aspirin for pain and fever and basically rest."
The release said symptoms of influenza may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue.
Locally, Payne County has seen nine hospitalizations for influenza.
If one doesn't have the flu, there are steps that can be taken to prevent them from contracting it.
"The number one thing they can do is stay away from those infected," Smith said.
However, she admits that sometimes that may not be possible if your child has contracted the flu.
Hand washing and coughing and sneezing into the crook of your elbow or your shoulder can also be good preventative measures, she said.
Influenza shots are also available from the Payne County Health Department.
"There are two different kinds of flu vaccine that we have available here," she said. "We have injectable and injections will take anywhere from 10 to 14 days to give you full immunity."
The other method for those ages 2 to 49 is a nasal mist, which will give full immunity after three or four days.
Vaccines can range anywhere from free to $25, based on income. Those wishing to receive a shot should bring their insurance, Medicaid or Medicare cards and proof of identity.
"There's a registration process," Smith said. "At that time they will be counseled on what the cost will be if there is a cost."
The Center for Disease Control said they recommend that everyone ages six months or older should get a seasonal flu vaccine each year and that many children ages six months through eight years require two doses of influenza vaccine.
Smith said flu shots are low this week, but more will be in stock next week. She asks that those wanting the flu shot or nasal spray should call the Payne County Health Department. before coming.
For more information, call 372-8200.