Medical officials warn early start of flu season in Oklahoma 

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OKLAHOMA CITY - It's that time of year for flu shots.

Medical officials across the state are urging Oklahomans to get the vaccine, especially after 2016's deadly year.

Thousands of people were hospitalized and hundreds have died.

“Every winter, every spring, you need to be concerned about the flu,” said Dr. Rachel Franklin, OU Medical Director.

A typical flu season in Oklahoma usually runs from October to May.

This year, doctors are starting to see cases of the flu in August.

The numbers aren't in yet for September but health authorities say they've already been treating patients.

“We have had one case of the flu that's been confirmed about three weeks ago,”Dr. Franklin.

“It is just October, but we've already had a handful of laboratory confirmed flu cases,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley.

Physicians say the flu season can be unpredictable and there are concerns this year's virus could be a bad one.

“There have been some early speculations from public health officials that we may see more of the circulation of the H3N2,” said Dr. Bradley.

H3N2 is a powerful strain of the flu.

“Which is associated typically with severe illness, increase in hospitalization and more kiddos out from school because of the flu,” Dr. Bradley said.

Doctors say your best defense against the flu is the flu shot, and doctors are urging patients to get theirs now.

“In Oklahoma, the flu season is usually at its worst sometime between December and March,” said Dr. Franklin.

Doctors are also hoping to put to rest those flu shot rumors.

“We don't want people to afraid of needles or to be afraid that the vaccine is going to give them the flu, that is certainly not the case,” said Dr. Bradley.

Flu clinics have already started offering the vaccine at county health departments statewide.

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