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Two Oklahomans die of influenza, experts offer ways to protect yourself this flu season

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Two people in our state have passed away because of the flu, according to statistics released by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

So far, one person in Carter County and another in Oklahoma County have died.

Also, 94 people have been hospitalized because of the flu this season.

Experts say it can be tough to protect yourself from viruses during the holidays.

"What we really want to encourage people to do is just be mindful of those protective measures,” said Laurence Burnsed, an epidemiologist with the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Department officials stand behind the flu vaccine being the leading form of protection.

"It's safe, it's effective. It's recommended every year because the strains that are included in the flu vaccine can change from one season to the next,” said Burnsed.

Experts say the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, but it can limit the severity of your symptoms and the length of the illness.

Of course, you can also take your day-to-day precautions.

"Hand hygiene on a regular basis, washing your hands with soap and water, using alcohol based hand gels and other products,” said Burnsed.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, sore throat and body aches.

People of all ages can get the flu, but there are those at greater risk.

"Individuals 65 years of age and older, children less than five years of age, and especially infants and individuals with underlying medical conditions, especially those that affect your lungs, heart and immune system,” said Burnsed.

If you do get hit with the bug, experts say you should stay home so you don't spread it to others at school or work.

Also, don't forget to practice cough etiquette.

"Covering your cough using a tissue or coughing into your sleeve will help to limit the spread of germs to other people,” said Burnsed.

The flu season is expected to last through April.

For more information about the flu, symptoms and ways to protect yourself and others, visit the health department's website.

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