It has begun: Three confirmed flu cases in Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA - It's the squirming face maybe you've made while getting a flu shot.

It might sting, but it could help you in the long run.

"Even if you're experiencing the symptoms now, or earlier, it may not actually be due to the flu. So it's really still recommended to get your flu shot," Epidemiologist Laurence Burnsed said.

Although flu season is just beginning, there are already three confirmed cases by the State Health Department, and it could be an early look at what's to come.

"This tells us that we already know there's some circulation of influenza in the state, which is why it's very important for people to recognize that and to take understand precautions they should take to protect themselves."

The flu hit Oklahoma hard last year.

It was the highest number of deaths on record last season, hitting well past the previous record of 101 people.

There were 114 deaths total with more than 2,000 hospitalizations.

There are three basic rules to keep the flu at bay. 1) keep your hands clean, 2) sneeze or cough into a Kleenex or sleeve, and 3) most of all, if you're sick stay at home from work.

Fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills. Those are the symptoms people want to avoid at all costs, but if you really want to help yourself, Laurence Burnsed says now is the time to get vaccinated.

"It could take up to two weeks before it fully takes effect and helps your immune system build a response to protect you," Burnsed.

There's no way to tell how bad this season will get, but Burnsed says the strain that's currently going around is covered in the vaccine.

"This H3 strain is one that's been including in the vaccine, so we'd hope that would find out that that's a decent match, which would help to hopefully affect how the season might progress," Burnsed said.

The State Health Department especially recommends getting the vaccine for those under the age of 5 - at least 6 months old - and 65 or older, as well as those with medical conditions.

Click here for more information on the flu.


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