October 11, 1995
ELDERLY AND CHRONICALLY ILL REMINDED TO GET FLU SHOTS
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. John R. Lumpkin today urged Illinoisans, particularly the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, to make arrangements for an influenza vaccination.
"Influenza vaccination is strongly recommended each year before the flu season for the elderly and those at high risk of developing complications, and for family members and individuals who provide care to high-risk persons," Dr. Lumpkin said. "As many as 4,000 influenza-associated deaths are reported each year in Illinois, chiefly among people 65 years of age and older or those with underlying health problems."
Dr. Lumpkin also reminded Medicare recipients that the government will once again pay for flu shots. A nationwide study determined Medicare coverage of influenza vaccine saves money by increasing the number of those immunized and decreasing health care costs associated with influenza. Hospitalization costs for pneumonia, the most common flu-related complication, average $5,300 per patient.
Flu shots should be given in the fall because it takes two weeks for immunity to develop and the influenza season typically runs from November through April. It is necessary to receive an influenza shot every year because immunity declines in the year following vaccination and flu strains vary from year-to-year.
A flu vaccination does not always protect a person from getting the flu, but in most cases it reduces the severity of the illness and protects against complications that may develop. The shots are recommended primarily for persons at high risk of developing complications, including those 65 years of age or older and those with --
This year's vaccine will protect against the following strains: A/Johannesburg, A/Texas, B/Harbin. A strains of the flu virus tend to affect more people because they change more quickly and people are not able to develop an immunity as well they can for B strains.
Symptoms of the various strains are similar and include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, and soreness and aching in the back, arms and legs. Most people recover in a matter of days.
The flu vaccine is safe and effective. It is made from inactive viruses and will not cause the flu. However, persons who are allergic to eggs or who have a fever should check with their physicians before receiving the vaccine.
For more information on influenza and flu vaccines, contact your physician, local health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-526-4372 or TTY (hearing impaired use only) 800-547-0466.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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