Each hospital reports flu cases to the health department. Those numbers are compiled by the state. This season the flu is big news in Tulsa County.
Those with the flu who are making their way to hospitals like Hillcrest most often are patients with underlying health problems like diabetes and heart disease. but emergency rooms are also seeing young children.
"Patients that are hospitalized with the flu usually require supportive care, oxygen and sometimes breathing treatments to help with their lungs open up and get more oxygen in them," says Dr. Joshua Gentges, with Hillcrest. He's an emergency room physician.
Three of Hillcrest's five flu hospitalizations this season have happened in the last two weeks. Many more flu cases though are diagnosed.
"Most years we'll see dozens and dozens and maybe even hundreds of people with the flu during the flu season. This year I'm seeing a smaller number but the ones that I am seeing are more likely to be significantly ill," says Dr. Gentges.
The health department continues to offer flu shots for those hoping to escape the virus.
"Make sure you're vaccinated. It takes about 2 weeks for the antibodies in your system to give you full immunity then if you do get the flu we want you to make sure you go to a doctor as soon as you can," says Epidemiologist Nicole Schlaefli with the Tulsa Health Department.
This is the first year, Hillcrest has required all of its employees, and volunteers to get a flu shot. the goal is a healthier staff especially when they're around people who already have a weakened immune system.
The Tulsa Health Department will continue to monitor the flu season up til end of the March.
That report from the states will be sent to the CDC which helps determine what should be in the flu vaccine for the next year.
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