Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma Encourages Consumers to Consider Flu Vaccine
Tulsa, OK — As the nation's flu outbreak continues to increase, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma urges those consumers who have not yet gotten the flu shot to consider doing so or consult with their doctor. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), most of the country is now experiencing high levels of influenza-like-illness. In Oklahoma, the latest reports from state health officials indicate 345 people have been hospitalized and eight people have died since September 30, 2012.
"This year's flu season started earlier than normal and the strains of influenza are more intense than were first anticipated," said Dr. Joseph Cunningham, chief medical officer and vice president of health care management for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma. “Getting a flu immunization will help deter infection. And even if someone does get the flu, the vaccine can help mitigate the severity and longevity of the infection."
As part of BCBSOK’s commitment to disease prevention and management to stop illness before it occurs, the Oklahoma Caring Foundation’s Caring Vans provide both the shot and mist flu vaccinations, among other vaccinations for qualified children. The Caring Vans make care easily accessible for children and families. Caring Vans visit schools, health centers, health fairs, public housing and other locations throughout the community. To view schedules for public clinics, visit oklahomacaringfoundation.org. People can also get the flu vaccine at doctors offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as through many employers and schools.
The CDC recommends the following everyday preventive action steps that people can take to slow the spread of the flu and other respiratory illnesses:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. This will block the spread of droplets from your mouth or nose that could contain germs.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you or your child gets sick with a respiratory illness, like flu, limit contact with others as much as possible to help prevent spreading illness. Stay home (or keep your child home) for at least 24 hours after fever is gone except to seek medical care or for other necessities. Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
- If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, follow public health advice. This may include information about how to increase distance between people and other measures.
For more information on the influenza season and vaccinations, please visit ok.gov/health .