|September 27, 2004||Influenza Web site|
IT’S TIME FOR YOUR ANNUAL FLU SHOT
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today reminded all Illinoisans that the single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each fall.
“Although most people who get the flu recover in several weeks, others can develop serious complications,” said Dr. Whitaker. “An annual flu shot prevents illness or, at the very least, will lessen its severity.”
Individuals are encouraged to get the flu shots in October or November before the flu season typically begins and because it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop.
Last year, due to reports about the severity of flu in other states, many people in Illinois rushed to get the shots and were faced with long lines or delays in getting immunized. The flu season started earlier than usual last year, but it also peaked earlier.
A sufficient supply of flu vaccine should be on hand this year. A delay reported this summer by one of the flu vaccine manufacturers is not expected to have an impact on the public’s ability to be vaccinated because the company expects to release its vaccine in October.
In addition, this year’s projected supply of vaccine is substantially greater than last year’s supply. Based on early projections, manufacturers anticipate total vaccine production to be 100 million doses. In 2003, about 87 million doses were produced.
While the vaccination is recommended for anyone who wants to avoid getting the flu and is 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing influenza among healthy adults 65 years of age or younger, it is especially important for certain people. The following are those considered most at risk and for whom a yearly flu shot is strongly recommended:
In addition, those who care for or live with persons at high risk should get a flu shot, including:
Flu shots are recommended 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 who are receiving their first-ever influenza vaccination require two doses a month apart to build immunity.
The flu season usually runs from November until April and often peaks between January and March. While October and November is the best time to be vaccinated, a flu shot can be given any time during the flu season. Flu shots must be given annually, since scientists formulate a new vaccine each year from inactivated influenza viruses in circulation at this time. This year’s shot is designed to provide protection against three strains of flu that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects to circulate in the United States this flu season: A/New Caledonia, A/Fujian and B/Shanghai.
Dr. Whitaker said the flu 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. 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.
Flu symptoms include fever (usually 100 degrees F in adults and often 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.
To prevent the spread of influenza, take the following precautions:
Besides the flu shot, Dr. Whitaker also recommended that the elderly receive a vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia and others with chronic medical conditions should check with their physician about the vaccine. Unlike the flu shot, the pneumococcal vaccine is usually given only once for lifetime protection rather than yearly.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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