With 345 confirmed hospitalizations in Oklahoma due to the flu, with an additional eight deaths, many Oklahomans are concerned.

With 345 confirmed hospitalizations in Oklahoma due to the flu, with an additional eight deaths, many Oklahomans are concerned.

One hospitalization has been confirmed locally through the Oklahoma State Department of Health. No deaths have been reported for Pottawatomie, Lincoln or Seminole counties.

Jane McGehee, district nurse for the Pottawatomie County Department of Health, encouraged anyone who has not yet received a flu shot to get one.

“It’s not too late,” McGehee said. “The best single way to protect against the flu is the vaccine.”

She added that people cannot contract influenza from the vaccine.

“It’s an inactivated virus,” McGehee said.

She added that another thing people can do is practice good hand washing.

Hand sanitizer is good to use as well, but “there’s no substitute for good handwashing,” McGehee said.

If anyone is exhibiting flu symptoms, they need to stay home, she added.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue.

McGehee added that if anyone is running a high fever, they need to visit their doctor.

“If they go to the doctor quickly, a lot of time they can get on anti-virals,” she said.

It is important to stay home for 24 hours after a fever has broken, McGehee said. This does not count is someone is using aspirin or acetaminophen to reduce the fever, she added.

In order to combat patients getting the flu on top of other symptoms, St Anthony Shawnee Hospital is requesting visitors limit their visits and stay away all together if they aren’t feeling well, Vicki Milliken, Director of Infection Prevention, said.

The measure is designed to protect vulnerable patients, as well as staff members, while the flu is beginning to spread in the community, she added.

Additionally, the hospital offers these types to help people stay healthy and avoid the flu.

• Wash your hands frequently using warm water and soap, scrubbing all surfaces for about 15-20 seconds. Some flu viruses can live up to two hours on surfaces such as desks, phones and door knobs. When soap and water are not available, hand sanitizers containing 60- 90 percent ethyl alcohol or isopropanol may be used.

• Avoid touching your face, unless you have clean hands. The eyes, nose and mouth are entry ports for flu viruses.

• Cover your mouth with a disposable tissue when coughing and sneezing. Dispose of tissues and wash your hands immediately. Better yet, cough or sneeze into your elbow.

• Avoid sharing objects (cups, utensils, etc.). Wipe down shared equipment such as phones and keyboards with disinfectant wipes.

• Get enough sleep and manage your stress. Lack of sleep and high levels of stress can reduce immune functioning, thus lowering the body’s ability to fend off colds and flu.

• Drink more water. You may not feel as thirsty during fall and winter, but it’s important to make sure you don’t get dehydrated. Consume at least 8 glasses a day.

• Maintain a moderate exercise program 3-4 days a week. It will strengthen the immune system and increase the body’s natural ability to fight infection.

• Eat healthfully. Remember to eat the recommended 5-9 servings per day of fruits and vegetables.

• Finally, listen to your body. Stay home if you have a fever and are coughing. You will feel better, recover faster if you rest and reduce the risk of infecting others.