Statewide, 331 people have been hospitalized due to flu complications, including 38 in Oklahoma County, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Health regulators have been trying to combat flu outbreaks in the United States and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first new flu medication in almost two decades past year.
The Centers for Disease control reports the flu has become widespread in 31 states including Nebraska. Agency officials are providing the estimates for the first time during flu season as a way to underscore the risks of serious complications of the respiratory virus and to encourage people to get vaccinated.
Health officials recommend Hoosiers protect their families by getting a flu shot if they haven't already and to take precautions, including frequent hand-washing and covering their mouths when coughing.
At this point last flu season, a total of 11,275 cases of lab-confirmed flu had been reported. In the past, the CDC has waited until the end of the season to release estimates of how many people have been affected by flu.
"If people have not yet had the vaccine, it's not unusual that around this time, after the holidays, we might have a little bit more influenza activity", Murti said.
"People get lulled into the idea that [influenza] is not as serious as it can be, especially for those most vulnerable", Dr. Russell said.
"It's still not too late to get a flu vaccine".
The CDC said that reported cases tend to increase in November before peaking between December and February. The organization estimates that flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year in the United States and several deaths.
"I think we could be doing a better job to really raise awareness to say kids between six months to five years old are a high-risk group".
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