The deaths were reported between February 19 and February 25, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 63 since flu season began in October. The cost of a flu vaccine is covered by Medicare Part B, Medicaid and most private insurance companies. Oklahoma remains in a "widespread" flu activity category. The health district reported that young children have been hit particularly hard this year, with five pediatric deaths reported across the state. This season, which was dominated by the influenza A H3N2 strain of the flu virus, has seen more severe illness, particularly for those 65 years of age and older. Randolph County's health director Susan Hayes confirmed one flu-related death occurred last week.
As of Wednesday, there have been 125 hospitalizations due to flu. The remaining 33 Oklahoman victims were over the age of 65. A survey of clinics, hospitals and health departments found that more than 7 percent of visits were for patients with flu-like illnesses, up from a little more than 2 percent in mid-January. The flu vaccine is still available at retail outlets and through the "Vaccinations for Health" program with the El Paso Fire Department and El Paso Health Department. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that emergency warning signs in children may also include rapid breathing, a fever with a rash, a bluish skin color, not being wakeful or interactive with others and not being interested in drinking enough fluids.