Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike urges everyone six months and older who has not been vaccinated, to get their flu shot this week as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week.
"The holiday season is in full swing, which can mean holiday parties with friends, family gatherings, or crowds of shoppers all looking for that perfect gift," Ezike said.
The Crawford County Health Department's schedule of special flu-shot clinics is over for this season, but vaccinations will be provided every Monday morning from 8 to 11 during the department's regular "walk-in" clinics.
Special arrangements can be made to accommodate those with limited mobility or those who are homebound. "High dose" vaccinations will be available upon request for those who are 65 years and older.
There is a charge for the seasonal flu shot. Medicare, Medicaid and several insurance companies can be billed for flu vaccinations for those persons presenting appropriate cards. Medicaid Title XXI vaccine has been delayed, but CCHD will be providing it as soon as it becomes available.
Residents with questions about flu vaccination, scheduling, or insurance coverage should call CCHD at 544-8798.
"Being in close quarters with many different people makes it easier for flu to spread. Protect yourself, as well as those around you who may be more vulnerable to serious flu illness, by getting your flu shot," Ezike added.
Just last week, Ezike gave Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton her flu shot in preparation for the winter season.
While it is hard to predict how severe or how long the flu season will be, Illinois is seeing an increase in flu activity similar to previous flu seasons. Flu activity most commonly peaks between December and February and can last as late as May.
In addition to getting a flu vaccination, IDPH recommends following the 3 Cs:
Clean your hands frequently by washing your hands with soap and warm water.
Cover your cough and sneeze.
Contain your germs by staying home if you are sick.
Flu viruses spread when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Flu usually comes on suddenly. Symptoms include fever or chills, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
Vomiting and diarrhea can also occur, although they are more common among children than adults.
Several studies have found that flu shots can reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated, but still get sick.
Influenza antiviral drugs can be a second line of defense for people who get sick with the flu. Many studies have found that in addition to lessening the duration and severity of symptoms, antiviral drugs can prevent flu complications.
More information about influenza can be found at www.dph.illinois.gov.