Cherokee Nation health centers still offering flu vaccine

January 10, 2013

More than 17,000 patients immunized so far

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — While health clinics across the country are reporting a shortage of flu vaccine, Cherokee Nation health facilities have ample stock and are encouraging patients not already immunized to get one.

“Others may be running out, but we still have plenty of vaccine here at W.W. Hastings,” said Cherokee Nation’s Infection Preventionist Jennifer Tredway.  “We are sharing with our other eight Cherokee Nation health centers to help all of us get through this flu season, which has peaked much earlier than last year.”

More than 17,000 patients at W.W. Hastings Hospital and the tribe’s outlying health centers were vaccinated from October through December. The Cherokee Nation also has health centers and clinics in Bartlesville, Nowata, Sallisaw, Salina, Jay, Muskogee, Vinita and Stilwell.

Last year flu cases peaked in March. This season confirmed cases of the flu first spiked in December. W.W. Hastings reported 120 cases that month and has already confirmed 80 flu cases this month.

“It’s never too late to receive the shot, because the flu virus is prevalent through March and April,” said Dr. Jorge Mera, an infectious disease physician at Hastings. “The flu shot is the only tool we have to prevent an individual from becoming infected.”

Each health facility is administering flu shots free for Native American patients by appointment or drop in. At W.W. Hastings call 918-458-3100 or call the nearest Cherokee Nation health center for more information.

The Cherokee Nation has yet to share vaccine with non-Cherokee health centers, but has done so in previous years when shortages have occurred. A decision whether to send vaccine to outside clinics will be determined by demand and severity of flu outbreak.

Flu shot patient count by health center
Cherokee Nation Health Centers No. of patients immunized Oct.-Dec.
W.W. Hastings Hospital (Tahlequah) 4,905
Bartlesville Health Center 585
Nowata Primary Health Center 290
Redbird Smith (Sallisaw) 2,289
Salina Amo Community Health Center 2,083
Sam Hider Health Center (Jay) 1,302
Three Rivers Health Center (Muskogee) 2,889
Vinita Health Center 561
Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center (Stilwell) 2,692

Helpful flu facts
People with the flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly through droplets when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days. Symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body.

Cherokee Nation News Release
918-453-5000 ext. 5990