OKLAHOMA CITY - Cases of the flu in Oklahoma have been more numerous than normal this season.
"This year, we’ve had increased activity and Oklahoma was one of the first states to start experiencing more widespread activity," said Dr. David Chansolme M.D, Medical Director of Infection Prevention for Integris Health.
The flu activity has been serious. The Oklahoma State Health Department released new numbers last week. 22 deaths and over 1,000 flu-related hospitalizations have been reported since the season began in September.
What makes the flu so bad this year? It's an H3-strain year. That makes this year's flu shots only 30-40 percent effective. And, the recent and current arctic blasts help the flu spread.
"When it's colder, people tend to not go outdoors, thus they are inside sharing air, sharing coughs, sharing germs and, frequently, we will start seeing more transmissible illnesses in those situations," Dr. Chansolme said. "I think also you have a confluence of several different viruses being out there. There are some other respiratory viruses that we started seeing three and four weeks ago, which can make people more prone to getting the flu."
Doctors say you should wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough, stay home from work and school, and get your flu shots.
"(It's) never too late to get the flu shot. That's still the number one way to prevent serious complications from the flu," Dr. Chansolme said.