TULSA, OK – [January 28, 2021] – The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) today reported the first influenza-associated deaths in Tulsa County for the 2020-2021 flu season. The date of deaths range from beginning of December until mind-January. No deaths being reported out occurred within the past week. According to OSDH, there have been 149 influenza-associated hospitalizations statewide since September 1, 2020. Forty-five of those hospitalizations occurred in Tulsa County. So far this season, the Tulsa Health Department has administered over 10,000 flu vaccines in the county.
As the flu season continues side by side of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tulsa Health Department encourages all individuals six months and older to get a flu vaccination. The best prevention against the flu is to receive the vaccine. The flu vaccine can keep you from getting the flu, make the illness less severe if you do get it and keep you from spreading the virus to family and other people.
“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.”
Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses and COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2). Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, but there are some key differences between the two. While more is learned every day, there is still a lot that is unknown about COVID-19 and the virus that causes it. This table compares COVID-19 and flu, given the best available information to date.
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.
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.
The Tulsa Health Department currently accepts Cigna, Community Care, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Health Choice, Medicare and SoonerCare Medicaid for immunizations. Coverage can vary among different insurance plans. Please bring your insurance card and photo ID with you. It is always advisable to check with your insurance provider for coverage specifics before receiving immunizations, as you may be responsible for charges that are not covered by your insurance policy.
Regular injectable flu vaccine will cost $25. High dose flu vaccine will cost $63. The cost for regular flu vaccine may be waived for uninsured adults who qualify. The 2020-2021 seasonal flu vaccination requires only one shot for most individuals. Children under age nine who have not received two flu immunizations before July 1, 2020 will need a second dose at least four weeks after receiving the first dose.
The vaccine is recommended for everyone over six months of age. Persons at high risk of serious complications from flu are strongly recommended to get the flu vaccine, including children younger than 5, adults age 65 and over, pregnant women and those with asthma, diabetes, or other chronic conditions. Parents and family members of babies less 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.
In addition to getting your flu shot, the Tulsa Health Department reminds you 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.
According to the OSDH report, the 2019-2020 flu season resulted in 85 deaths and 3,580 hospitalizations to Oklahomans. Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a contagious disease that spreads around the United States every year, usually between October and May. Flu is caused by influenza viruses, and is spread mainly by coughing, sneezing, and close contact. Anyone can get flu. Flu strikes suddenly and can last several days. Symptoms vary by age, but can include: fever/chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache and runny or stuffy nose. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. If you have a medical condition, such as heart or lung disease, flu can make it worse. Each year thousands of people in the United States die from flu, and many more are hospitalized.
“It is possible have flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19 at the same time,” added Niemitalo. “Flu and COVID-19 can both result in serious illness, including illness resulting in hospitalization or death. The flu vaccine can keep you from getting the flu, make the illness less severe if you do get it and keep you from spreading. The more people who are vaccinated, the more people who are protected.”
Please visit our Flu Page for more information about the flu, including flu vaccination clinic locations and hours of operation. THD is also offering a Tulsa County specific report based on OSDH’s weekly report found here: http://bit.ly/THDfludata. For information about all other Oklahoma counties’ flu programs, visit Oklahoma State Department of Health’s website at https://www.ok.gov/health/.
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