|September 20, 2001||Influenza Web page|
FLU VACCINATIONS URGED FOR THOSE AT HIGH RISK;
SPRINGFIELD, IL Due to delays in the distribution of influenza vaccine, the Illinois Department of Public Health today recommended that the elderly and individuals with chronic health conditions be the first to receive the flu vaccine while healthy people should defer being vaccinated until November when supplies are expected to be more plentiful.
"The flu is potentially serious and can be life-threatening to the elderly and persons at a higher risk for medical complications," said Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director. "For that reason, we are asking health care providers to first vaccinate those most in need of protection from influenza. Vaccination of those considered at low risk should be deferred."
Persons at the greatest risk for influenza include those 65 years of age and older, those in nursing homes and those with certain chronic diseases, particularly of the lungs and heart.
Based on information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Lumpkin said about 60 percent of the total projected influenza vaccine supply should be delivered by the end of October, another 30 percent in November and the final 10 percent in early December. The optimal period for immunizations is October through the end of November.
Typically, the influenza season does not peak until January or later, as it has in 15 of the past 19 years, according to the CDC, and lasts until April. Last flu season in Illinois, the heaviest flu activity occurred in January.
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. It takes one to two weeks for a person to gain full immunity after getting a flu shot. This year's shot is designed to provide protection against three strains of flu that CDC expects to circulate in the United States this flu season: A/New Caledonia, A/Moscow and B/Sichuan.
Those considered to be at high risk from complications of influenza include --
Once 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. Flu shots can be given any time before and during the flu season.
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, 79 million doses of flu vaccine will eventually be distributed this flu season compared with 75 million doses during the 2000-2001 flu season and 74 million doses 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 degrees 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
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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