How to avoid getting the
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[January 08, 2018] SPRINGFIELD
– Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Nirav D. Shah,
M.D., J.D. is recommending that everyone older than 6 months be
vaccinated against influenza. The flu season in Illinois typically
starts around October and can last up to May. The flu vaccine is
becoming available at many local health departments, pharmacies, and
health clinics around the state.
single most effective way to prevent getting the flu is an annual
flu shot,” said Director Shah. “Influenza is a serious illness and
can be fatal. Even healthy people get the flu each year, so it’s
important for everyone to be vaccinated. Being vaccinated will not
only help protect you, but it will help protect people at higher
risk of severe illness such as the elderly.”
The flu vaccine is easier to get than ever. The vaccine comes in the
traditional form of a flu shot, but for people who don’t like
needles, there is an intradermal vaccine given with a much smaller
needle, or a nasal spray. There are also a high-dose vaccine for
people age 65 years and older and a recombinant (egg-free) vaccine.
The vaccine is also becoming easier to get as more places, like
workplaces, are offering the vaccine, and pharmacies are open
earlier and close later to help people with busy schedules.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the
availability of more influenza vaccine this year than ever before.
Manufactures are making more than 171 million doses, 40 million of
which have already been distributed across the country. Overall, CDC
estimates that 47 percent of the U.S. population age 6 months and
older was vaccinated during the 2014-2015 season, similar to the
2013-2014 season and up from an estimated 41 percent five years ago.
The severity of a flu season is unpredictable because flu viruses
are constantly changing. William Schaffner, M.D., medical director
of the National Foundation of Infectious Disease noted,
“Occasionally, flu viruses will change substantially after they are
included in the vaccine. This can result in lower than usual vaccine
effectiveness, which is what happened last season. But this season’s
vaccine has been updated and vaccination is always our first and
best defense in fighting flu and protecting public health.”
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Each season, flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands
of hospitalizations and thousands or sometimes tens of thousands of
deaths. The rate of flu-related hospitalizations among people age 65
years and older last season was the highest ever recorded since this
type of record-keeping began a decade ago. Flu also hit children
hard with 145 lab-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths
reported, a number that is known to be an underestimate of the true
number of these deaths.
“Influenza can be costly, not only to a person’s health, but also in
medical costs and missed work or school,” said Director Shah. “The
best defense is a good offense, and the best offense is getting a
In addition to getting a flu shot, IDPH recommends following the 3
C’s: clean, cover, and contain.
Clean – frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water.
Cover – cover your cough and sneeze.
Contain – contain your germs by staying home if you are sick.
Influenza antiviral drugs can be a second line of defense for
treatment of some who get sick with flu. Many observational studies
have found that in addition to lessening the duration and severity
of symptoms, antiviral drugs can prevent flu complications. Because
it is important to start antiviral medication quickly, high-risk
patients should contact a healthcare professional at the first signs
of influenza symptoms, which include sudden onset of fever, aches,
chills and tiredness.
To find a location to get a flu shot in your community, check with
your local health department or log onto the IDPH website to use the
Flu Vaccine Finder
[Illinois Department Of Public Health]