CHICAGO – December 6, 2012. With the holiday season here and public health officials saying that we’re seeing more flu activity this year, Governor Pat Quinn today encouraged everyone six months and older in Illinois to get a seasonal flu shot. To mark National Influenza Vaccination Week from Dec. 2 through 8, the governor rolled up his sleeve and received a flu shot from the state’s Public Health Director, Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck.
“Public health officials are warning that this year we are already seeing a higher level of flu activity in some areas of the state than all of last flu season,” Governor Quinn said. “In order to stay healthy through the holidays and all winter long, the most important thing you can do is get a flu shot now, so that you don’t expose yourself and your family to unnecessary illness.”
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Illinois has seen an increase in flu activity this season. IDPH says that physicians in some areas of the state, including Cook County, are reporting an increase in people with influenza-like illnesses. There have also been recent institutional flu outbreaks and several laboratory-confirmed cases.
“Governor Quinn is setting a great example today,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “Getting vaccinated is the single best way for you to protect not only yourself against flu, but your loved ones as well. We recommend everyone six months and older get vaccinated.”
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year an estimated 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu. On average, influenza in the U.S. results in approximately 200,000 hospitalizations and more than 25,000 deaths annually. Flu symptoms may include a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, headache, body aches, exhaustion, chills and weakness.
The influenza virus can be spread through coughing or sneezing. People can also get the flu by touching objects carrying the virus, such as telephones and door knobs, and then touching their mouth or nose. Public health officials recommend that in addition to getting a flu shot, it is important to practice “the three C’s”: Clean: properly wash your hands; Cover: cover your cough and sneeze; and Contain: contain your germs by staying home if you are sick.
The CDC says that young children, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions and the elderly are at higher risk of complications from influenza. Side effects are mild; some individuals may experience mild flu-like symptoms for a few days after vaccination and/or soreness at the injection site.
For more information about the seasonal flu shot and staying healthy, visit www.idph.state.il.us/flu/ and www.flu.gov.