Although there has been little discussion this year regarding influenza as compared to last year, the need for receiving vaccinations against the virus continues, officials said.

However, fewer are receiving the shots this year, though the reason for the decline isn’t clear, Vicki Milliken, Unity Health Center infection control director, said. Milliken said it is important for people, especially those who have chronic illness or who live and work around those who do, to receive the shot.


Although there has been little discussion this year regarding influenza as compared to last year, the need for receiving vaccinations against the virus continues, officials said.
However, fewer are receiving the shots this year, though the reason for the decline isn’t clear, Vicki Milliken, Unity Health Center infection control director, said. Milliken said it is important for people, especially those who have chronic illness or who live and work around those who do, to receive the shot.
“The flu vaccine is completely safe and we recommend everyone to get it,” she said.
Milliken said in addition to receiving the vaccine, the best defenses against getting or spreading the flu are to wash hands thoroughly and often and to sneeze or cough into one’s inner elbow or sleeve.
Unity held a free drive-thru flu shot clinic Saturday at the hospital’s south campus and just before 11 a.m., “only 650 shots” had been administered, Carla Tollett, Unity marketing director, said.
“Our drive-thru numbers this year are low compared to all the years before,” she added. “We gave out 1,557 flu shots for the entire event.”
Nasal mist containing “live virus” also was available for those who met the criteria to receive it and who preferred it instead of the shot. Those vaccinations were included in the total number of shots administered Saturday.
Tollett said the hospital has received “several calls” about the vaccine from those who are concerned about it because it combines the H1N1 vaccination and seasonal vaccine in one shot this year. However, she reiterated the vaccine is not only safe but also is effective.
David and Jamie Bergsten, Shawnee, said they believe medical personnel who advise the shot is safe. The couple received the H1N1 vaccination last year, although it was administered separately at that time, and receive the seasonal flu shot annually.
“We talked to our pediatrician this year and we feel OK about it,” Jamie Bergsten, who is a local teacher, said. “I’m exposed to so many things at school, I don’t want to bring anything home to my kids.”
The Bergstens attended the drive-thru flu clinic along with their son Tyler, 21 months, daughter Olivia, 4, and relative Shirley Adams.
David Bergsten, who has asthma, said the family was a bit hesitant at first about receiving the H1N1 vaccination last year but received it and the seasonal vaccine at that time anyway.
“We had some concern last year but this year, we had no problems deciding,” he said. “It’s important to us because we have kids. We wouldn’t want to catch something and come home and give it to our kids.”
Terry Dean, Tecumseh, said she also received both vaccinations last year. She said she has a variety of health problems and therefore feels a bit safer and more protected by receiving the flu shot each year.
“It stings just a little,” she said. “But everyone should get it at these clinics because it’s free.”
Tollett said that because the need for vaccinations is so important, another free flu clinic will be held in the near future. She said the details of that clinic will be released as soon as they are available.
Laurence Burnsed, Oklahoma Department of Health Communicable Disease Division director, said October and November are typically the months Oklahoma begins to see instances of the flu in the state.
“The number of Oklahomans with the flu will peak in January and February and by April and May, it goes away,” he said.
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