Schools forced to close due to outbreaks of the flu

OKLAHOMA CITY – While the weather may feel like spring, health officials say Oklahoma is in the heart of flu season.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the number of flu deaths in Oklahoma more than doubled in just a week. With two recent large outbreaks, officials are warning you to stay home if you're sick.

More than 300 students and over a dozen teachers in McLoud have the flu.

Just a few days earlier, more than 100 students in Minco came down with either the flu, strep throat, or a combination of both.

"School officials decided to close because of that. What's important to note here is when you have group centers like nursing homes, other institutional settings, outbreaks can happen especially this time of year,” Laurence Burnsed, an epidemiologist with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said.

That’s why Burnsed says with outbreaks this large, closing schools is the right decision.

"When you have multiple students who are out, parents need to be aware when your child is sick, keep them at home when they're sick. We want to prevent transmission of those germs,” Burnsed said.

State health department officials say the number of flu deaths have more than doubled in just a week and the number of people hospitalized for the flu is up by 40 percent.

"What we do know from the monitoring that occurs with our state public laboratory and other states in the nation is that the multiple strains that are circulating this year seem to be the ones that are included in the vaccines,” Burnsed said.

However, because the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, Burnsed said it’s important to stay home if you’re sick.