WOODSTOCK Ill. – While flu activity is currently low in Illinois, public health officials expect activity to increase over the coming weeks. To reduce the risk of illness, local health departments and healthcare organizations across the state, including the McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH), are encouraging residents to get a flu shot during Vaccinate Illinois Week, December 8 through the 14. Vaccinate Illinois Week is a statewide observance focused on educating the public about the importance of flu vaccine during the fall and winter months.
“It’s not too late to get a
flu shot,” said Patrick J. McNulty, MCDH Administrator. “In fact, Vaccinate
Illinois Week is an ideal time to get vaccinated since influenza activity often
peaks in January, and it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies
to develop in the body that protect against infection.”
Public health officials
recommend that everyone six months of age and older should be vaccinated
against influenza, especially pregnant women, young children, people 65 years
of age and older, and anyone with underlying health conditions like asthma,
diabetes, or a weakened immune system. A flu vaccine is needed every year
because flu viruses are constantly changing.
People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Although getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent getting influenza, you can also reduce your risk by:
· Washing your hands regularly with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
· Practicing good cough etiquette, such as coughing into your elbow instead of your hands.
· Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth; germs are spread this way.
· Avoiding close contact with sick people.
If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at
least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Certain people are at greater risk for
serious complications if they get the flu.
This includes older people, young children, pregnant women and people
with chronic health conditions. Symptoms
can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches,
headache, chills and fatigue. Complications of the flu can include bacterial
pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of
chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or
diabetes. Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe.
Flu shots are available at
numerous locations including pharmacies, retailers and healthcare providers. To
find flu shot clinics near you, use the Flu Vaccine Finder at http://www.flu.gov/. For more information about the flu,
visit MCDH at www.mcdh.info.
“Working to prevent disease and promote
health and safety for all people of McHenry County since 1966.”