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Itís not too late to get a flu shot

Mon December 8, 2014

As we see increasing influenza activity in Illinois, the DuPage County Health Department is joining public health partners across the state and encouraging everyone six months and older to get a flu vaccine during Vaccinate Illinois Week, December 7-13.

Vaccinate Illinois Week coincides with National Influenza Vaccination Week, a national observance established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination and encourage more people to be vaccinated during the holiday season and into the new year.

Flu activity doesn't usually peak until January or February in the United States, and the season can last as late as May.  As long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination can help provide protection.

Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. People with flu symptoms should stay home 24 hours after the fever is gone (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine).  Antiviral drugs can make illness milder, shorten the length of illness and may prevent serious complications.  Complications of the flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions.  Pregnant women, young children, people 65 years and older, and anyone with underlying health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or a weakened immune system are at greater risk of complications from infection. 

One of the biggest myths about the flu is a person can get the flu from a flu vaccine.  The influenza vaccine cannot give you the flu.  The flu shot contains killed viruses, and the nasal spray has weakened viruses that cannot cause illness.  If you get flu-like symptoms soon after being vaccinated, it can mean you may have been exposed to the flu before getting vaccinated, or during the two-week period it takes the body to build up protection after vaccination.  It might also mean you are sick with another illness that causes symptoms similar to the flu.

Vaccination is important for health care workers and others who live with or care for high-risk people to keep from spreading flu to them.  For example, children younger than six months are at higher risk of developing serious flu illness and related complications, but are too young to be vaccinated.

To reduce the spread of flu, it is also important to practice the 3 C's -

  • Clean - properly wash your hands frequently
  • Cover - cover your cough and sneeze
  • Contain - contain your germs by staying home if you are sick