TULSA, Okla. — The flu killed three people in Tulsa County, the first deaths in the county for the 2020-2021 flu season.
The deaths happened between December 2020 and mid-January. Six people have died and 149 hospitalizations statewide during this flu season. The Tulsa Health Department is urging people to get their flu shots and take precautions.
“Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during this season to protect yourself, your family and your community from the flu,” said Tulsa Health Department Clinic Manager, Ellen Niemitalo. “A flu vaccine this season can also help reduce the burden on our healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and save medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients.”
The flu vaccine is available to anyone over the age of six months at the following Tulsa Health Department locations. Call 918-582-9355 to make an appointment or request an appointment online. Masks are required to be worn and clients will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival.
- James O. Goodwin Health Center | 5051 S. 129 E. Ave., Tulsa, OK
- Central Regional Health Center | 315 S. Utica, Tulsa, OK
Children through age 18 years are eligible to receive vaccines at no charge through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program if any of the following apply: they are uninsured Medicaid eligible, Native American Indian, Native Alaskan, or their insurance policy does not cover vaccines.
In addition to getting a flu shot, the Tulsa Health Department urges people to follow these prevention tips:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Outside your home, put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
- Everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- Stay home from work, school, and other public places if you are ill. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Make “respiratory hygiene” a habit, including use of tissues to cover coughs and sneezes, then disposing of them and washing hands at once. When tissues are not readily available, use your sleeve, never your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of respiratory illness and take your temperature if symptoms develop. Call your health care provider for advice if you are experiencing symptoms.
Health officials also urge people to look at the differences between the flu and COVID-19. Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2), and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.
The CDC recommends an individual does not get a COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine at the same time. COVID-19 vaccines should be given alone with at least 14 days either before or after you get any other vaccines, including a flu vaccine, This is because there is currently limited information on the safety and effectiveness of getting other vaccines at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine.
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