Flu season arrives early for Oklahomans

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- It's usually a virus you can expect in October or November, but Oklahoma doctors are saying the flu season is here and it's been here since August.

OC Mercy Clinic physician Jesse Samuel says, “About a month ago I had a patient who came in and she just presented with the typical symptoms. The flu wasn't high on my thought process but I went ahead and checked for the flu and she ended up having it.”

The virus is typically seasonal but Dr. Samuel warns his patients to be on their guard year round.

“It's pretty early, but the flu, it can happen at any time of the year,” says Dr. Samuel.

Jillian Rodesney was just one of Oklahoma's early flu patients. She works as an Orthodontist’ assistant, working around kids all day, but she still didn't expect to come down with the virus in August.

"I just almost didn't even go to the doctor,” says Rodesney. “I thought that there was no way I could have had the flu this early."

Even with the typical symptoms, she still couldn't believe it.

"Mainly feeling like you got hit by a semi almost,” says Rodesney. “You just can't even get out of bed."

Rodesney says she and her co-workers get flu shots through her office but she would have never thought she needed to schedule hers in the summer.

"We haven't even had a chance to get ours yet,” says Rodesney. “We are already having some of us go home with the flu."

Now the Oklahoma Health Department says along with the traditional flu vaccine, patients also have an opportunity to get an alternative, called the quadrivalent vaccine. It fights a little harder and offers more protection.

The Oklahoma Health Department’s Susan Mendus says, "This quadrivalent vaccine has the potential to prevent more cases. There would be less cases of the flu, fewer hospitalizations and fewer deaths."

The quadrivalent vaccine protects against four strains of the flu instead of the typical three, but this vaccine won't be as readily available as the traditional one. Health authorities say be on the lookout for it early.

"If you can't find the quadrivalent vaccine definitely don't wait,” says Mendus. “Go ahead and get whatever flu vaccine is available so you will be protected."

The quadrivalent vaccine isn't available everywhere. Before you schedule this season's flu shot you definitely want to ask and make sure they have what you are looking for.

Officials at the health department say if you visit them you are guaranteed to get the new vaccine.

Click here for more information on where to get the flu vaccine.

With students back in school and travelers returning to the U.S. from winter destinations in the Southern Hemisphere, the 2013-2014 flu season is upon us. According to The CDC, it’s not too early to get the flu vaccine – a common myth – and health officials urge people to start getting vaccines now, before the flu becomes widespread.

Here are some other myths surrounding the flu vaccine which often prevent adults and families from getting the shots necessary for a healthy and safe fall and winter. A local MinuteClinic nurse practitioner can offer real facts about the flu vaccine either on your studio set or at one of our many nearby clinics.

Please let us know if you're interested. Thank you for your consideration.

Top 5 Myths Surrounding Flu Vaccine
1. It's too early to get a seasonal flu shot.
2. The seasonal flu shot can "give" you the flu.
3. If you got the vaccine last year, it is still effective this year.
4. The flu vaccine may cause harmful side effects.
5. Natural immunity and a healthy lifestyle is better than immunity from vaccines.

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