OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The holidays are here, and while that means more opportunities for spreading cheer, there is also more opportunity for spreading flu and other respiratory viruses as people resume travel and gather with family and friends.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) says National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 5-11) is an important reminder to check off one thing no one should go through the holiday season without: a flu shot.
According to OSDH, flu activity and the number of people who received flu shots during the 2020-2021 season was very low, likely because of COVID-19 prevention measures.
“It is important to know that immune protection against flu decreases over time, so many people may have reduced immunity to flu this season,” said OSDH.
Health experts are particularly concerned about the impact reduced immunity could have on people who are already at higher risk of developing serious flu complications, including those with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, heart disease and diabetes.
“Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine, many of us will be able to celebrate the holidays with our loved ones this year,” says Oklahoma State Department of Health Immunization Service Director Dr. Fauzia Khan. “But the COVID-19 vaccine does not protect against flu, so it is important individuals also get vaccinated for the flu to ensure the safety of their family and friends. For those who haven’t been vaccinated for COVID-19 yet, it is safe and effective to get both vaccines at the same time.”
While it is ideal to get a flu vaccine before flu starts spreading in your community, getting vaccinated later is still beneficial during most seasons.
Flu most commonly peaks in February and significant activity can continue into May, so there is still time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already.
OSDH encourages Oklahomans to take time this National Influenza Vaccination Week to go to your doctor or local pharmacy to get your flu vaccine, encourage your loved ones to get their flu vaccine and learn more about the benefits of getting vaccinated against flu.
Getting an annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older and is the best way to help protect against flu.
To learn more about finding flu shots in Oklahoma, visit fightflu.health.ok.gov. Oklahomans can also call the 2-1-1 helpline or contact their county health departments for assistance.
The Center for Disease Control Vaccine Finder website at vaccines.gov also lists flu shot providers in Oklahoma and nationwide.