The DuPage County Health Department (DCHD) is promoting National Influenza Vaccination Week from December 5-11, 2021, which is a call to everyone 6 months and older to get their annual influenza (flu) vaccine. Flu remains a significant public health concern, and this week serves to remind everyone that there is still time to get a flu vaccine, which is the only vaccine that protects against flu to prevent flu illness and potentially serious complications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone can get sick from flu and some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. Flu is a contagious respiratory illness that infects the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. Flu symptoms can be mild to severe and include some or all of these symptoms:
• fever* or feeling feverish/chills
• sore throat
• runny or stuffy nose
• muscle or body aches
• fatigue (tiredness)
• some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
The most common time for flu is during the fall and winter months with peak activity between December and February. The best way to prevent flu is by getting the flu vaccine each year. By getting vaccinated, you protect yourself and those around you including those who are more vulnerable like babies, young children, older people, and those with certain chronic health conditions. If you do get the flu, you should take everyday precautions including:
• While sick, contact your healthcare provider for evaluation and care, especially if symptoms persist or worsen. For people at higher risk of serious flu complications, treatment with antiviral drugs can mean the difference between milder or more serious illness possibly resulting in a hospital stay. CDC recommends prompt treatment for people who have flu or suspected flu and who are at higher risk of serious flu complications.
• Limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.
• Staying home until you are better. The CDC recommends at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
“As we are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in DuPage, it is important that we prevent and reduce the prevalence of influenza,” stated Karen Ayala, Executive Director of the DuPage County Health Department. “Our healthcare resources are high quality and robust in DuPage County, but they are not limitless. We need to all do our part, and the best strategy is for people to get the flu vaccine.”
Stay healthy for the holidays and protect your loved ones. It is not too late to get vaccinated against the flu and it is safe for both the flu and the COVID-19 vaccines to be co-administered at the same visit or on the same day, without regard to timing.
To increase accessibility to all DuPage County residents, the DuPage Health Coalition (DHC) is offering free flu shots to low-income, uninsured residents of DuPage County. In addition to the flu vaccine voucher program, several local Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are also offering flu vaccines to their uninsured patients. To learn more or request a voucher, visit www.accessdupage.org/flu. To find a flu vaccine provider near you, go to Vaccines.gov - Search for flu vaccine locations. More information on flu prevention is available at Influenza (Flu) | CDC.