Seniors urged to get flu shots early
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SPRINGFIELD -- Due to the
recent news concerning a possible shortage of flu vaccines, Illinois
Department on Aging Director Charles D. Johnson is emphasizing the
importance of flu shots for senior citizens
"Even though there seems to be a slight
shortage of the flu vaccine, I encourage seniors to maintain their
appointments and plans to get the shot," Johnson said.
Last week, a major flu vaccine supplier
to the United States was shut down, cutting the number of available
flu shots across the country in half, to 54 million.
Many health professionals across the
country are urging those who don't necessarily need a vaccination to
take a step back and give priority to those who really need it,
including people 65 years of age and older.
Influenza, commonly called "the flu"
is a contagious respiratory illness, resulting in sickness ranging
from mild to severe and life-threatening complications, such as
bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical
conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
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According to the Centers for Disease
Control, the single best way to avoid the flu is to get a
vaccination every year in late October. The CDC estimates that 10
percent to 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu each year, an
average of 114,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related
complications, and 36,000 die each year from those complications.
"It's very important that this
vulnerable population protect themselves," Johnson said. "Seniors
already have a weakened immune system. Catching the flu can
complicate existing health problems and result in death. So, again,
I urge older people to get their flu shot."
Department on Aging news release]