November 29, 2000
|2000 - 2001 Flu Activity Report|
FLU VACCINE RECOMMENDED FIRST FOR HIGH-RISK INDIVIDUALS
SPRINGFIELD, IL Due to delays in the shipments of flu vaccine to some areas of the state, the Illinois Department of Public Health is recommending that health care providers use available supplies to vaccinate persons at high risk of complications from influenza and health care workers who care for these persons.
Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director, said there have been reports of flu vaccine shortages in some parts of the state, principally in the Chicago metropolitan area, but manufacturers are expected to have vaccine supplies available in December to meet the demand for all who want to be vaccinated. Additional supplies (more than 12,000 doses) have arrived within the past week in Illinois to address the shortage of flu vaccine for high-risk individuals in the city of Chicago.
"The flu is potentially very serious and can be deadly for the elderly and those at higher risk for medical complications," Dr. Lumpkin said. "If they have not already had a shot, they should receive one now. While it is true that many people can benefit from the shot, those not at high risk should wait until there is a greater supply of flu vaccine."
Dr. Lumpkin said there have been no reports of flu cases in Illinois so far this year and a delay in receiving the annual flu shot until mid or late December should still protect most people from the illness.
Typically, the influenza season does not peak until January or later, as it has in 14 of the past 18 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and runs until April. Last flu season in Illinois, however, the heaviest flu activity occurred around the Christmas and New Year's holidays. It takes one to two weeks for a person to gain full immunity after getting a flu shot.
The influenza vaccine does not always protect a person from getting the flu -- it is 70 percent to 90 percent effective in preventing influenza among healthy adults -- but usually the symptoms are milder in those who have been immunized.
Some persons considered to be at high risk from complications of influenza:
Even though most individuals are being asked to wait until sufficient influenza vaccination supplies are available in December, it will not be too late to get a shot because it can be given any time during the flu season. Once the high-risk persons are provided with vaccinations, Dr. Lumpkin urged all groups to consider getting a flu shot, especially those who are 50 to 64 years of age.
Dr. Lumpkin advised those who are considering a flu shot to check with their health care provider or local health department on the availability of flu vaccine. CDC has said that, based on information provided by manufacturers, 75 million doses of flu vaccine will be distributed this year compared with 74 million doses administered during the 1999-2000 flu season.
Influenza, commonly called the flu, is caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract and spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Typical flu symptoms include fever (usually 100 degree F to 103 degrees F in adults and often even higher in children), dry cough, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and extreme fatigue.
After a person has been infected with the virus, symptoms usually appear within two to four days. The infection is considered contagious for another three to four days after symptoms appear and illness usually lingers for a week or two. Each year, an estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of the population contracts influenza.
of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
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