Be prepared. That’s the best advice we can give, especially when it comes to influenza.

The flu is making its presence felt in Oklahoma, and state officials are saying this could be a bad flu season.

For most people, the flu means a few miserable days with fever, cough, body aches and other symptoms. However, for some, the flu can be deadly. Thousands of people die each year from complications related to influenza, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to get the flu vaccine. Getting vaccinated doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, but the vaccine provides the best defense we have.

We’d encourage everyone 6 months and older be vaccinated.

Flu shots are available at a variety of places, including your doctor’s office, county health departments and local pharmacies. County health departments accept SoonerCare, Medicare, all private health insurance, cash, checks or credit cards.

Flu vaccinations can be given through a variety of ways, including the regular shot injected into the muscle, a nasal spray and a shot given in the skin, which uses a smaller needle, according to CDC.

According to the state Health Department, public health officials recommend the following prevention tips:

• Adopt a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly and getting a full night’s rest.

• Wash hands frequently using soap and water, or alcohol-based products such as hand gels when hands are not visibly soiled.

• Use tissues to cover coughs and sneezes, then dispose of them and wash your hands immediately. When tissues are not readily available, cough into your sleeve, not your hands.

• Stay home from work, school and other public places when feeling ill.

No defense is 100 percent, but doing what you can, including getting a flu shot, will go a long way to keeping you and your family healthy.

Please get a flu shot if you are eligible. As always, prevention is the best medicine.

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