Health officials urge flu vaccination for children

Team Radio Marketing Group - December 29, 2016 8:51 am

The Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Kay County Health Department are urging everyone 6
months of age and older to get the influenza vaccine to protect themselves and those around them from the flu,
especially babies too young to receive a vaccination.

Data collected by the OSDH indicates a recent increase in influenza activity, including influenza-associated hospitalizations.

Flu starts spreading as early as the beginning of October, but activity is usually highest in January or February in
Oklahoma and can continue to occur into mid-May.

“The spread of influenza is occurring, and there are still several months left in the flu season,” said Kay County Health Department Administrative Director Kelli Rader. “The single best way to protect against the flu and its consequences is to get the flu vaccine.”

Since 2009, Oklahoma has had a higher percentage of children less than 5 years of age hospitalized for influenza,
compared to the children in that age group nationally. The number of Oklahoma children less than 5 years of age
hospitalized for influenza has ranged from 67 to 337 during a single influenza season. During that same period, there have been 23 influenza-associated deaths among Oklahoma children 6 months to 17 years of age, and most had not received a flu vaccine.

While all young children are at risk for severe complication from influenza, children with asthma or other medical conditions that weaken the lungs or heart, neuromuscular disorders, or illnesses that affect the immune system are at the highest risk.

Despite the known benefits of the flu vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 60 percent of the U.S. population has not yet received the flu vaccine this season. Many local county health departments, pharmacies and health care providers still have vaccine.

The Kay County Health Department offers flu vaccinations as a walk-in service. In Ponca City, walk-in hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and in Blackwell, walk-in hours are 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.  and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (580) 762-1641 in Ponca City or (580) 363-5520 in Blackwell for detailed information on eligibility and availability.

Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the exception of holiday closures ( Jan. 2 and Jan. 16) and in the event of unsafe weather/road conditions. Any such closures will be posted on our Facebook page at ).

  • In addition to getting a flu shot, the Kay County Health Department reminds you to follow these important tips to fight the flu this season:
  • Practice frequent hand washing using soap and water, or alcohol-based products such as hand gels or wipes when hands are not visibly soiled.
  • Use tissues to cover coughs and sneezes, then dispose of them and wash hands at once. When tissues are not
    readily available, cough into your sleeve — never your hands.
  • Get plenty of rest and eat healthy, nutritional foods.
  • If ill with flu-like symptoms, stay home until at least 24 hours fever-free, without the use of a fever-reducing
  • Contact you healthcare provider if you are concerned about your illness. Take antiviral flu medication as prescribed.

For more information about influenza and activity updates, visit the Ok Flu View at and select the Ok Flu View link. For information about flu clinics, contact your local county health department.


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