Flu shots now recommended earlier

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - State health officials say Oklahomans need to receive their influenza shots earlier this year, and children need to keep getting the shots into their teens.

Until this year, federal recommendations called for children from 6 months to 5 years to receive flu shots. Now that guideline has been extended until children turn 18.

Don Blose, the state Health Department's immunization director, says some flu vaccine already is making its way into Oklahoma. He says that's earlier than normal.

The earlier shipments are occurring because health officials want to have 30 million more Americans receive the vaccine than in past years.

Health Department statistics indicate that nationwide, 83 children died during the last flu season from the illness. About 36,000 people in the U.S., many of them elderly, die from the illness during each flu season.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)