Category Archives: Oklahoma

OK | WNv confirmed in a Major County resident

The first case of West Nile virus (WNV) in Oklahoma has been confirmed in a Major County resident.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) encourages residents to take precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV, a mosquito-borne illness.

Summertime typically marks the beginning of the WNV season in Oklahoma, with outdoor activities providing opportunities for encountering infected mosquitoes.

Although the severity of this year’s WNV season cannot be predicted, it is important to know the highest risk months in Oklahoma for WNV exposure occur from July through October.

During 2013, 84 cases of WNV were confirmed among Oklahoma residents, including 8 deaths.  Cases ranged in age from 17 to 92 years.  WNV is spread through the bite of the Culex mosquito, which feeds on infected birds and transmits the virus when biting humans, horses, and some other mammals.

Symptoms of WNV include sudden onset of fever, headache, dizziness, and muscle weakness. Long-lasting complications can include difficulty concentrating, migraine headaches, extreme muscle weakness and tremors, and paralysis of a limb. If one or more of these symptoms develop, especially after suffering mosquito bites within the previous two weeks, a health care provider should be contacted. Persons over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of developing severe neurologic disease from WNV. Some of the neurological effects of WNV may be permanent.

Among the precautions to take against mosquito bites are the following:

  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors, particularly if you are outside between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to bite. Insect repellent with permethrin should be used on clothing only.
  • Repair or install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
  • Prevent items such as buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots, and tires from holding standing water so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed.
  • Empty your pet’s outdoor water bowl and refill daily.
  • Clean leaves and debris from rain gutters regularly to ensure they are not clogged.

For more information, visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s WNV website at http://go.usa.gov/wpz.

Oklahoma | State Health dept confirms first case and death of Heartland virus

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has confirmed the state’s first case and death of Heartland virus. A Delaware County resident died recently from complications of the virus. The virus is found in the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum), and is likely spread through tick bites.  

Heartland virus was first identified in Missouri in 2009. The Oklahoma case is only the tenth person confirmed with the virus and the second person to die from it. Other cases have occurred in Missouri and Tennessee. All of the patients diagnosed with Heartland virus reported spending several hours per day in outside activities or occupations.

Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, bruising easily and diarrhea. There is no routine testing available for Heartland virus. However, protocols are in place for investigational diagnostic testing. Healthcare providers can contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Acute Disease Service at (405) 271-4060 for consultation regarding protocol enrollment for patients who have acute illnesses compatible with Heartland virus infection.

There is no vaccine or drug to prevent or treat the disease. Preventing bites from ticks and mosquitoes may prevent this and other infections. The Oklahoma State Department of Health recommends the following:

–Use insect repellents, following package instructions.
–Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors so that ticks are easily seen and removed.
–Avoid bushy and wooded areas where ticks can be transferred onto you.
–Perform thorough tick checks soon and daily after spending time outdoors.

For more information on reducing exposure to ticks, visit:

http://www.ok.gov/health/Disease,_Prevention,_Preparedness/Acute_Disease_Service/Disease_Information/Tickborne_and_Mosquitoborne_Diseases/index.html

Alabama | State experiences significant H1N1 influenza activity this season

While the flu season is just getting started in much of the country, activity is already high in Alabama, along with Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

Reports from Alabama’s network of providers who report influenza-like illness and send influenza samples for testing to the Department of Public Health indicate the geographic spread of influenza in Alabama is widespread for the third week in a row.

Influenza type A, H1N1 (also known as 2009 H1N1, the pandemic strain, or pH1N1) has been the predominant strain circulating virus so far this season. One characteristic of pH1N1 is that, similar to the pandemic of 2009, young and middle-aged adults seem to have a greater chance of severe influenza.

Flu is a very contagious respiratory illness. Some of the symptoms of influenza can be fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and extreme fatigue. Influenza can be a serious disease for anyone, even children, pregnant women and previously healthy young adults.

An annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. The flu vaccine this year includes protection against H1N1. Flu vaccines are available as shots and nasal spray. Physicians, nurses and pharmacists can advise patients which type of flu vaccine is right for them.

In addition to taking the flu vaccine, other measures can reduce or prevent the spread of influenza. These include staying at home when sick, covering the mouth and nose with a tissue/cloth when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.

Dr. Karen Landers, Assistant State Health Officer, said, “Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. It’s not too late to get a flu shot to protect against this serious disease. People become protected about two weeks after receiving the vaccine.”

There are no reports of influenza vaccine shortages this season.

Contact your private provider, pharmacy or local county health department to receive an influenza vaccination. For more information contact the Immunization Division of the Alabama Department of Public Health at (334) 206-5023 or toll free at 800-469-4599.

Oklahoma | State health officials concerned about Texas measles outbreak

A statewide health alert issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services following an outbreak of measles in Texas has prompted concern from Oklahoma’s public health officials.

“We are worried about the current outbreak of measles in Texas, because measles is very contagious, spreads like wildfire and can be very serious,” said Lori Linstead, director of the Immunization Service at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The age range of the Texas cases is from 4 months to 44 years old. “Persons of any age who have not been appropriately vaccinated against measles are susceptible to the disease,” said Linstead.

Currently, there are no reported cases of measles in Oklahoma. The last reported case of measles in the state was in 1997.

Measles is spread from person-to-person by airborne droplets, commonly from a contagious person coughing or sneezing; by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected persons; or through touching surfaces contaminated with these secretions. Infected people can spread the disease usually four days before their rash starts to four days after rash onset.

Symptoms of measles include a high fever and a red blotchy rash starting on the face then spreading to the rest of the body. Symptoms begin to appear about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus. Individuals first experience a fever lasting about two to four days then followed by the onset of cough, runny nose, and/or conjunctivitis. The rash usually appears about 14 days after exposure and lasts four to seven days. It begins at the hairline, and then involves the face and upper neck. Over the next three days, the rash gradually proceeds downward and outward, reaching the hands and feet. Symptoms may last for one to two weeks. There is no treatment for measles; however, health care providers may treat the symptoms of measles with bed rest, plenty of fluids, and anti-fever medications.

Oklahoma State Department of Health officials are alerting Oklahoma health care providers to consider measles in their diagnosis of patients with compatible symptoms who have traveled to the North Texas area during the 18 days prior to the onset of symptoms. Providers should take appropriate infection control precautions and immediately reportany suspected cases to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. One out of every 2,000 will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain).Coma due to measles encephalitis may last for weeks or months.For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die.

Persons who are not vaccinated are definitely at risk of getting the disease. “We strongly recommend that all parents think about vaccinating their children with MMR vaccine now. The first dose is recommended at 12 to 15 months of age, so babies who have reached their first birthday can receive the vaccine now; there is no reason to wait,” Linstead said.

Ninety-four percent of Oklahoma toddlers (19 through 35 months of age) have received one dose of measles vaccine and 97 percent of children entering kindergarten in Oklahoma have received two doses. But, measles is so contagious, that even a very small number of unvaccinated children won’t be protected if the measles virus gets into the community. State health officials consider the six percent of Oklahoma toddlers who haven’t received the vaccine to be at risk.

The second dose of MMR is recommended at 4 to 6 years of age or before entering kindergarten.“All children 4 years of age or older who have not received a second dose of MMR can get it now,” Linstead said.

Parents who have not vaccinated their children or delayed vaccination because of fears of measles vaccine causing autism should know that many studies have been done to investigate if the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine has any connection to autism. Absolutely no link has been found.Twelve studies have produced no evidence that children who receive MMR vaccine are at greater risk of autism than those who haven’t received MMR vaccine.The results of studies are very clear; the data show no relationship between vaccines and autism.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health recommends that children receive MMR vaccine from their regular health care provider, clinic, or county health department.

For more information on measles, visit www.health.ok.gov.

Alabama | Health officials investigate foodborne outbreak in Sumter County

The Alabama Department of Public Health is investigating a foodborne outbreak that has affected at least 36 people who ate a meal around noon on July 6 served to persons attending a funeral at Eastern Star Baptist Church in York.

More than 100 people are reported to have attended this funeral.

Initial reports indicate that at least 30 have been hospitalized with some in serious condition. The ongoing investigation has involved hospitals in at least 9 states. These states currently include Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Oklahoma. Preliminary tests at the Alabama Bureau of Clinical Laboratories are positive for salmonella, and additional tests are pending.

ADPH’s investigation began July 8 after a report from a local hospital that 25 people had been seeking emergency room care late on July 6 and 7 with symptoms of fever, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

“If you attended this event and are ill, please contact your physician,” advised Dr. Mary McIntyre, Assistant State Health Officer for Disease Control and Prevention

Oklahoma | Tornado emergency – Situation update – May 21 16h

SEVERE WEATHER IMPACTS STATE

Due to widespread tornado damage and continuing severe weather conditions across Oklahoma, the State Emergency Operations Center remains activated. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is in contact with emergency managers across the state and coordinating with the Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Oklahoma Insurance Department, National Weather Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Medical Reserve Corps, American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).

The State has launched a website, okstrong.ok.gov, to provide up-to-date information and resources.

The Oklahoma National Guard has been activated and search and rescue is ongoing in the affected areas. The Guard has 177 members deployed in 34 vehicles throughout the area. The Guard is also assisting with providing drinking water to the area.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has 40 troopers maintaining a perimeter around the affected area.

Moore officials report they have enough responders on scene at this time, and ask that additional resources and volunteers please stay away from the affected area unless specifically requested.

Responding agencies and organizations are collaborating to organize resources to feed up to 40,000 people over the coming days.

FATALITIES

The Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reports 24 fatalities related to Monday’s storms.

Two fatalities are attributed to Sunday’s storms.

INJURIES

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reports 237 injuries as a result of Monday’s storms. The injuries include 148 individuals who sustained cuts or pierces, 85 individuals who were struck by objects, and four individuals who were struck by vehicles and/or other large objects.

HEALTH SERVICES

OSDH reports that Moore Hospital was damaged by the tornado. Thirteen patients are being transported to area hospitals.

Due to low water pressure, Oklahoma Heart Hospital South is relocating 14 patients.

TRANSPORTATION     

Northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 35 through Moore have been reopened. However, the public is encouraged to avoid the area if at all possible. All I-35 offramps in the Moore area remain closed.

DAMAGED STRUCTURES

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is assisting OEM in the process of assessing damage to structures. The assessment is ongoing due to the wide scope of damage sustained in the affected area.

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTANCE

President Barack Obama has issued a major disaster declaration for Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties. The declaration makes individual assistance available to tornado survivors in those counties.

Homeowners, renters and business owners in those counties are encouraged to register with FEMA for potential recovery assistance. Survivors can register online at disasterassistance.gov, via smartphone at m.fema.gov, or by calling 1-800-621-3362.The same counties were also approved for public assistance to include debris removal, emergency protective measures and direct federal assistance.

COMMUNICATIONS

Wireless telecommunications providers are taking steps to boost wireless communications capabilities in the area.

WATER

The power is back on at the Draper Water Treatment Plant. Residents and businesses will soon see the water pressure return to normal.

As water quality crews bring the water system, they will flush the pipelines and monitor the water quality.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has no reason to believe the water in the pipeline is unsafe to drink. However, those who completely lost water service or whose homes sustained structural damage are encouraged to voluntarily boil water before consumption as a voluntary precautionary measure.

As a result of low water pressure, nonessential personnel at several state office buildings in the state Capitol complex had to be sent home. The Capitol building remains open at this time.

SHELTERS AND MASS CARE

The American Red Cross has opened the following shelters:

St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church – 2727 SW 119th Street, Oklahoma City, OK

Newcastle Storm Shelter – 851 N. Carr, Newcastle, OK

Moore Community Center – 201 S. Howard, Moore, OK

The American Red Cross encourages the use of their website, www.safeandwell.org, which is designed to help family and friends reunite.

Additionally, the following American Red Cross shelters from Sunday remain open:

Carney Senior Center – 301 Maple Avenue, Carney, OK

Shawnee High School Athletic Center – 1001 N. Kennedy, Shawnee, OK

Little Axe Resource Center – 1970 156 Ave NE, Norman, OK

OU Housing & Food Services is open for those displaced by the tornadoes. For more information, please call 405-325-2511.

Feed The Children will be accepting donations of diapers, canned goods, non-perishable food and snack items, water and sports drinks, and cash donations at the following locations:

1. McCormick Warehouse at 29 N. McCormick in Oklahoma City from 8:30 am – 4:30 p.m.

2. 1st Baptist Church downtown OKC 1201 N. Robinson

3. KOCO 1300 West Britton Road, OKC, OK

4. Faith Tabernacle Church – I-40 and Portland

5. TLC Garden Center 105 West memorial in OKC

The Salvation Army has five canteens deployed to the Moore area, with two more en route. There are two canteens in Shawnee. The Salvation Army is coordinating with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief for meal preparation for the Salvation Army and American Red Cross to then distribute.

In addition, the Joplin chapter of AmeriCorps is en route to assist in response efforts.

POWER OUTAGES

Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports more than 34,000 outages related to the storm.

PSO
Total – 815
Chickasha – 535
Atoka – 52
McAlester – 81
Wilburton – 39
Okemah – 8
Tulsa SW – 63
Tulsa SE – 28
Tulsa NW – 5
Tulsa NE – 3
Bartlesville – 1

OG&E
Total – 27,903 (includes Arkansas)
Ardmore – 3,227
Bokoshe – 71
Cameron – 175
Davis – 58
Durant – 405
Heavener – 435
Kellyville – 1,482
Lone Grovew – 125
Moore – 14,005
Norman – 263
OKC North – 529
OKC South – 1,199
Poteau – 101
Ringling – 113
Tishomingo – 960
Vian – 124
Wellston – 103
Yukon – 300
OKC METRO TOTAL – 16,399

Caddo Electric
Total – 205
Cement and Cyril areas

Canadian Valley Electric
Total – 1,304
Shawnee, McLoud – 1,120

Central Rural Electric
Total – 1,145
Lincoln County – 1,003
Logan County – 12
Oklahoma County – 6
Payne County – 7

Indian Electric Cooperative
Total – 344
Pawnee area – 147
Morrison area – 144
Glencoe area – 25

Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative
Total – 336
Ottawa County
Fairland, Wyandotte, Seneca

Oklahoma Electric Cooperative
Total – 2,134
Most in Moore, SE OKC

Ozarks Electric
Total – 150
Cherokee County

People’s Electric
236
Hughes, Pontotoc Counties

ANIMALS

Stray animals are being taken to the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter at SE 29th and Bryant to be reunified with their owners. Further animal reunification efforts are underway.

DIAL 211

For Oklahoma residents seeking non-emergency disaster or health and human service information, please contact your local 2-1-1. Services are available 24 hours a day by dialing 2-1-1 from your home or cellular telephone. Please only call 911 for emergencies.

Oklahoma | Tribal health issues to be addressed in regional listening sessions

In an effort to improve the health and wellbeing of American Indians living in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, in collaboration with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and representatives from Oklahoma’s tribal nations, will host a series of listening sessions in upcoming weeks to identify and address tribal health needs in the state.

Regional Tribal Consultation Sessions will be offered in six communities from February 1 through March 1. Among the topics for discussion will be access to preventive health care, reducing chronic diseases and childhood obesity, and improving disparities in health and health care among Oklahoma’s American Indians. In addition, the state health agencies will be seeking input into the development of an Oklahoma Plan to reduce the number of uninsured and the costs of health care.

“We believe these sessions can provide the guideposts for collaboration that we need to assure our state’s First Oklahomans receive culturally competent public health services,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline.

Written comments will be accepted through March 15, 2013, and should be submitted to:

Office of the Tribal Liaison
Oklahoma State Department of Health
1000 NE 10th Street, Room 503.1
Oklahoma City, OK 73117-1299

Date, location and time of the sessions are as follows:

  • February 1 – Citizen Potawatomi South Reunion Hall, 1702 S. Gordon Cooper, Shawnee; Host: Citizen Potawatomi Nation; 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
  • February 8 — Lawton Indian Hospital, 1515 NE Lawrie Tatum Road, Lawton; Host: Lawton Area Indian Health Service Unit Board; 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
  • February 13 — Pawnee Tribal Complex, Roam Chief Building, 810 Morris Road, Pawnee; Host: Pawnee Nation; 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
  • February 15 – Armory, 100 N. Water Street, Tahlequah; Host: Cherokee Nation; 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
  • February 22 – Kiamichi Vo-Tech; 301 Kiamichi Drive, McAlester; Host: Choctaw Nation; 10 a.m. – 12 noon
  • March 1 — Bear Skin Healthcare and Wellness Center; 1 Turtle Drive, Wyandotte; Host: Wyandotte Nation, 10 a.m. – 12 noon

For more information, contact the Office of the Tribal Liaison at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, (405) 271-5170.

Oklahoma | Flu widespread in state – 345 hospitalizations and 8 deaths

New influenza statistics released today by the Oklahoma State Department of Health indicate 345 persons have been hospitalized and eight persons have died in Oklahoma since reporting for the current flu season began on Sept. 30, 2012.

Influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported statewide while influenza-related deaths have occurred among three residents of Tulsa County, and one each from Creek, Mayes, Muskogee, Pittsburg, and Rogers counties.

Public health officials continue to emphasize that the single best way to protect against flu and its consequences is to get the flu vaccine. Many local county health departments, pharmacies and health care providers still have vaccine and health officials urge all persons 6 months of age and older to get the vaccine to protect themselves and those around them from influenza, especially babies too young to receive a vaccination.

Persons who already have the flu can spread it to others even before they feel sick. You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever (although not everyone with flu will have a fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.

If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider. Certain people are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications (including young children, elderly persons, pregnant women and people with some long-term medical conditions). If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, it’s best for you to contact your health care provider. Remind them about your high risk status for flu.

Health care providers will determine whether influenza testing and possible treatment are needed. Your provider may prescribe antiviral drugs that can treat the flu. These drugs work better for treatment the sooner they are started, ideally within 48 hours of noticing symptoms. Consult with your healthcare provider if you or a household member is in a group that is at higher risk of flu-related complications. Antiviral drugs may be indicated as a prevention measure to prevent especially vulnerable persons such as infants less than 6 months old, or persons of any age with a medical condition that severely suppresses their immune system.

Parents should be aware of children with emergency warning signs of flu including the following:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

Parents and caregivers should seek medical help right away for any infant who is unable to eat, has trouble breathing, has no tears when crying, and has significantly fewer wet diapers than normal.

Adults who have should seek medical attention if they have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, and flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and a worse cough. It is not necessary to go to the emergency room if you are only mildly ill. If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at high risk of flu complications or you are concerned about your illness, call your health care provider for advice. If you go to the emergency room and you are not sick with the flu, you may catch it from people who do have it

If you do become sick with flu symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other things you have to do and no one else can do for you. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as acetaminophen. You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings. Remember to cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash your hands often to keep from spreading flu to others.

Oklahoma | State Dept of Health teams with WebMD to enhance public health alert system

The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced that it has teamed with Medscape of WebMD, a leading online-source of information for health care professionals, to communicate urgent public health messages to physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, nurses and other health care providers in Oklahoma.

This partnership will complement Oklahoma’s existing Health Alert Network (HAN) system.

Currently, the Oklahoma State Department of Health delivers vital health information through health alerts, advisories and updates to local health departments, hospitals, health care providers and other public health partners as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national HAN system.

“The alliance with WebMD provides an innovative tool that will allow us to expand and deliver our urgent public health alerts quickly, especially when time is critical,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline.

Medscape will support these efforts by distributing Oklahoma-specific email alerts to its network of registered clinical members throughout the state. These alerts will cover infectious disease outbreaks, environmental and product safety advisories, preparedness planning and response information, and public health developments in Oklahoma.

“As a leading source of health information and news, Medscape can swiftly and effectively reach healthcare providers with urgent health information when needed,” said Robert Marotta, Senior Vice President and Chief Regulatory Counsel of WebMD. “Our goal is to work alongside the Oklahoma State Department of Health on both a state and local level to enhance existing channels of communication to providers.”

Oklahoma | County health department flu clinics launch October 1

Public health influenza vaccination clinics will begin at county health departments throughout the state on Monday, Oct. 1.

Flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age or older. Pregnant women and people with asthma, diabetes, chronic heart and lung disease, or other chronic conditions are strongly encouraged to get the vaccine. Parents and family members of babies younger than 6 months of age and people who live with or care for anyone at high risk for complications from the flu, including health care workers, should also get the vaccine.

“Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. “An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and reduces the possibility that you will spread flu to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, then the less opportunity flu has to spread throughout the community.”

A wide variety of flu vaccines are available at most local county health departments. The nasal spray flu vaccine is available for use in most healthy people 2 through 49 years of age. Intradermal vaccine with a needle that is 90 percent smaller than the needles used for giving regular flu shots is available for persons 18 through 64 years of age. A high-dose vaccine that is stronger than regular flu vaccine is available for people 65 years of age and older.

Influenza vaccine formulations generally change each year based on samples collected of viruses circulated throughout the world.  While the H1N1 virus used to make the 2012-2013 flu vaccine is the same virus that was included in the 2011-2012 vaccine, the recommended influenza H3N2 and B vaccine viruses are different to protect against the strains most likely to cause illness this year. A flu vaccination received last year will not provide protection this year.

Local county health departments will provide flu vaccine using the following fee schedule:

  • No charge for families whose income is less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • No charge for adults 65 years of age and older.
  • No charge for children who have no health insurance, or are on SoonerCare or are Native American or Alaskan natives, or children whose insurance does not cover vaccines.
  • No charge for persons enrolled in HealthChoice and the Oklahoma Public Employees Health and Welfare insurance plans who present their insurance cards.
  • Children and adults with health insurance that covers vaccines and those with incomes above 185 percent of the poverty level will be charged a fee of $25.00 for flu vaccine to cover the cost of the vaccine and the cost of administering the vaccine.
  • Cash, check and credit cards are accepted for payment.

Many county health departments will also be providing pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine for persons 65 years of age and older and those with chronic health conditions. Pneumococcal pneumonia is a potentially serious complication of the flu.

For more information, call your local county health department or visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health website at www.health.ok.gov