Drive-thru flu shot clinic open Friday

Flu season is officially here. Thursday the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced the first laboratory confirmation of influenza activity in the state. Oklahoma joins 14 other states in reporting sporadic flu activity. Which means health officials are now encouraging you to get your flu shot as quickly as possible. They say it is especially important for young children and the elderly.

Nearly 36,000 people die from the flu every year -- and as many as 200,000 are hospitalized. So the health department is trying to immunize as many people as possible as quickly as possible. The best way to do that? A four-lane drive-thru flu shot clinic. It'll be from 7 a.m. to noon Friday at the Great Plains Coliseum. "Most people can get through in 10 minutes," said Karen Mahan with the Comanche County Health Department. "And somebody will probably prove me wrong tomorrow! [laughs] But we do, it's much quicker than having to park your car and get out and go into an office."

The flu vaccine is extremely important for people over 50, assisted-living facility residents, those with chronic health conditions and pregnant women. "People that are high risk, they get complications, they don't have a good immune system or whatever," Mahan said. "So they get complications, they end up in the hospital with pneumonia, or other complications, and then a lot of people die."

But it's also important to immunize the people who take care of them. "A lot of health care workers are working with people who are sick, or have had surgery or something like that, so they need to be sure and get it," she said, "emergency responders, most of the firefighters and police, and all of those get it."

Friday's the drive-thru clinic is only for adults over the age of 19. To get your children vaccinated, you can take the entire family to the health department -- they'll have two nurses there Friday morning.

For the drive-thru flu shot clinic, health officials remind you to wear short sleeves and not bring pets in the car. But also remember to fill out a data entry record form before you drive through. A copy of that form is available here.

And a side note: if your child has flu-like symptoms -- remember not to give them aspirin, because it has been associated with Reye Syndrome. Instead give children with the flu a medication that has acetaminophen to relieve fever and muscle aches.