McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 25, 2013

FLU:

The flu claims second victim in Pittburg County

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — A second Pittsburg County resident has died from the flu — prompting a renewed plea from health officials for those who have not already received an influenza vaccination to get one.

The second Pittsburg County resident to die from influenza during the current flu season has been publicly identified by health officials only as an adult female over the age of 65.

“Certainly, we want to say we’re very sad to learn of this person’s death,” said Pittsburg County Health Department Administrator Mike Echelle. “Our sympathies go out to the family.”

The death of a Pittsburg County man from influenza had been reported earlier in the flu season.

Reports of the latest death came as the Pittsburg County Health Department received additional supplies of influenza vaccinations.

“We want to encourage individuals to get a flu shot,” Echelle said. “The best way to protect yourself is by getting a flu shot.”

“The Pittsburg County Health Department has vaccines available for adults and children” Echelle said, noting that additional doses of the vaccine arrived at the health department this week.

“We received an additional 250 vaccines for adults; 32 high-dose vaccines for individuals 65 and older, and 160 vaccines for children,” Echelle said.

The Pittsburg County Health Department at 1400 E. College Ave. is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

No charge for a flu vaccination at the health department is in place for individuals 65 and older, those on Medicaid, including Sooner Care: Health Choice, or the Oklahoma Public Employees Health and Welfare network, according to Echelle.

Others may also qualify for no out-of-pocket expenses, based on a sliding scale, or may use their insurance. For those who do have to pay, the cost is  $25.

The latest Pittsburg County death is among 14 influenza- associated deaths confirmed to have occurred statewide during the current flu season, which health officials marked as beginning Sept. 30, 2012.

Other counties reporting influenza-related deaths during the current flu season include Cleveland, Canadian, Creek, Mayes, Muskogee, Oklahoma and Rogers counties.

Echelle advised frequent hand-washing with soap and covering one’s mouth and nose by coughing into the bend of the arm as ways to help prevent the spread of influenza.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.