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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2010

State Public Health Director Warns H1N1 Flu Still Causing Illness, Hospitalizations and Deaths
Federal, State, and local Public health officials kick off National Influenza Vaccination Week (Jan 10-16) by stressing the importance of H1N1 vaccinations

CHICAGO – Recognizing National Influenza Vaccination Week, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold today was joined by U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) and other public health officials to encourage Illinois residents to get their H1N1 vaccination.

“The H1N1 flu continues to circulate throughout the state.  Last week, 67 additional hospitalizations and three deaths related to H1N1 flu were reported in Illinois.  The amount of illness we are seeing is decreasing, but we are still seeing hospitalizations and deaths related to the H1N1 virus,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Illinois Department of Public Health Director.  “Illinoisans need to avoid becoming complacent.  The time to get vaccinated for H1N1 is now.”

Federal, state, and local public health officials came together today to observe National Influenza Vaccination Week and remind Illinoisans of the importance of being vaccinated for the H1N1 flu virus.  After seven consecutive weeks of decreasing influenza-like-illness in outpatients statewide, Illinois saw a slight increase in influenza-like-illness last week.  Although the likelihood of a future wave of the H1N1 flu cannot be predicted, health officials know that vaccination is the most important step in protecting against influenza.

“National Influenza Vaccination Week is an important opportunity to recognize that H1N1 flu is a serious disease, and while many cases are mild, some can be deadly.  There are still a lot of lives to be saved by getting ourselves and our families vaccinated,” said Cristal Thomas, MPP, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region V.

Since the H1N1 flu virus began to circulate in April, there have been 2,696 lab-confirmed hospitalizations and 86 deaths related to the H1N1 flu virus in Illinois.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between mid-April and November 14, 2009, 47 million people in the United States were infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu, more than 200,000 people were hospitalized, and over 9,800 people died. 

There is now a very good supply of the H1N1 vaccine available to all Illinois residents who want to be vaccinated.  H1N1 vaccine is now available to Illinois residents through local health departments, private physicians, and retail pharmacies.  For a list of the nearest public vaccination sites in IL and to learn more about the H1N1 flu, visit www.ready.illinois.gov or www.flu.gov.

Pharmacies may charge a fee for administering the vaccine, typically between $12 and $22.  This fee is covered by most health insurance.  People should bring their health insurance information with them to the pharmacy, and they may need to submit a receipt to their insurance company for reimbursement.  Anyone may also receive an H1N1 influenza vaccination free of charge at all local health departments in Illinois.

For questions about the H1N1 flu, call the Illinois Flu Hotline at 866- 848-2094 – translators are available.



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