NORMAN — The first reported flu death in Cleveland County this year was announced Thursday by the Cleveland County Health Department.
Cleveland County Health Education Supervisor Amanda James said at this time, the county does not know the age, gender and race of the patient or exactly when or where the death occurred. The information has not been released by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
An additional seven deaths were reported in the state during the last week in Cleveland, Comanche, McClain, Okmulgee and Tulsa counties, for a total of 12 deaths reported statewide this flu season, according to a news release from the Cleveland County Health Department.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, influenza-associated hospitalizations now total 399, with 157 reported in the past week. A chart on the website shows 20 influenza hospitalizations in Cleveland County from Sept. 29 to Jan. 14.
Kelly Wells, Norman Regional Health System spokesperson, said Norman Regional has had 13 influenza-related admissions since Jan. 1, with large volumes of patients testing positive at all three campus emergency departments.
“Majority of the cases have been influenza A, which is consistent with the Oklahoma State Department of Health influenza surveillance,” she said in an email. “We have had positive influenza cases since late fall; however, an increase in cases started the week of Jan. 5.”
James said it is common for reports of the flu to increase in January, with this year’s trends similar to years past. And though the vaccine has been available for a few months now, James stressed it is not too late to receive the vaccine.
Influenza A (H1N1) viruses are what the county are seeing the most of this year, James said, and the vaccine helps protect against the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, flu vaccines are designed to protect against H1N1, influenza A (H3N2) and influenza B.
The seasonal vaccines are designed to protect against influenza viruses that experts predict will be the most common during the upcoming season. The 2013-2014 trivalent influenza vaccine is made from an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus; an A(H3N2) virus antigenically like the cell-propagated prototype virus A/Victoria/361/2011; and a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.
Vaccines are offered for all age groups, James said, with both mist and shot vaccines available. An annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older but is especially important for high-risk groups like those 50 or older, young children, persons with chronic lung disease (such as asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions, other long-term health conditions and pregnant women.
The Cleveland County Health Department offices are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday for residents to get vaccines. The Norman office is at 250 12th Ave. NE. The Moore office is at 424 S. Eastern Ave.
Call the Cleveland County Health Department Norman office at 321-4048 or the Moore office at 794-1591 for more information about flu vaccine, including pricing. Visit health.ok.gov for Oklahoma flu updates, which are posted every Thursday.
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