MedWatch- Preventing the spread of flu from Medwatch 7 KSWO on Vimeo.

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- The flu is widespread across the nation, but especially in Oklahoma. We’ve seen schools all over our area closing to help prevent the spread. Doctors fear people aren’t taking the virus as seriously as they should.

Go get your flu vaccine. Doctors can’t say it enough.

“People should be afraid of the influenza virus, not the vaccine.”

And unlike what so many people may believe, Dr. Richard Brittingham says the flu vaccine does not cause the flu.

“I have a lot of patients in my practice, and I’m sure every physician has the same problem of patients that come in and say, ‘No, I don’t want to have the flu vaccine, because the last time I got the flu vaccine, I got the flu.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. ”

So far this year, Oklahoma has had over 1500 cases of the flu and 45 deaths. Dr. Brittingham says no matter how effective the current vaccine may be, you should still get it. Even if you do get the flu later, it can help with the severity.

“The vaccine is not 100% effective. People are saying that it’s 10% effective, but it’s actually about 30% effective. But 30% in medicine is a pretty good number.”

He says the reason the shot isn’t 100% effective, is because the virus is always changing.

“The standard influenza A has drifted genetically now to H3N2, which is a little bit more virulent strain of influenza. There’s also been an increase in influenza B.”

He says the earlier you can get to a doctor when you start showing signs of the flu, the better they can treat you.

“If you have a high fever, shaking, chills, sore throat, I would see a clinician. Go to a clinic, go to the emergency room, wherever you can go. But get checked out for influenza, and get treated for it immediately.”

Flu season is from September to March. Dr. Brittingham says it’s not too late for the flu shot.

In other health news, CCMH’s annual Heart Healthy Luncheon is February 13th at 11:30 a.m. in the Maple conference room.  You’re invited to attend the lunch and presentation “Aspirin, friend or foe?”  Lunch is $10. Seating is limited so please RSVP by calling 580-585-5406.

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