|October 2, 2002
ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVE, IT'S TIME FOR THAT ANNUAL FLU SHOT
SPRINGFIELD, IL With flu season right around the corner, Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director, today urged Illinoisans to get their annual flu shot.
"While influenza is not usually fatal, some people particularly the elderly and those who have a chronic illness can develop life-threatening complications," Dr. Lumpkin said. "Yearly immunization against influenza can prevent these problems and many deaths."
Dr. Lumpkin strongly recommended the shot for those most at risk of developing serious complications from influenza and called on anyone who wants to lower their chances of getting the flu to get the vaccination. He said people should begin to schedule vaccinations in October before the flu season begins because it takes two weeks after the shot for immunity to develop. The flu season typically runs from November until April and peaks in January.
Following are those considered most at risk and for whom a yearly flu shot is recommended:
In addition, those who care for and live with persons at high risk should get a flu shot, including
And for the first time, Dr. Lumpkin said the federal government's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also is encouraging flu shots for healthy children 6 months to 23 months of age because of increased rates of influenza-related hospitalizations in this age group. Unlike the annual flu shot provided to most people, children 6 months to 8 years of age receiving their first-ever influenza vaccination require two doses a month apart to build immunity.
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 under 65 years of age but usually the symptoms are milder in those who have been immunized. This year's shot is designed to provide protection against three strains of flu that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects to circulate in the United States this flu season: A/Moscow, A/New Caledonia and B/Hong Kong.
Dr. Lumpkin said the vaccine is safe, effective and made from killed influenza viruses, which cannot cause the flu. Less than one-third of those who receive the shot have some soreness at the vaccination site and about 5 percent to 10 percent experience mild side effects, such as headache or low-grade fever, for about a day after vaccination. People who are allergic to eggs or who have an acute illness with fever should check with their physician before receiving the vaccine.
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. The CDC has said that, based on information provided by manufacturers, 94 million doses of flu vaccine will be distributed this flu season compared with 79 million doses during the 2001-2002 flu season and 75 million doses during the 2000-2001 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 one to four days. The infection is considered contagious for up to five 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.
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