September 24, 2009
State’s Top Doc Gives University of Illinois Women’s Basketball Coach Seasonal Flu Shot
All Illinoisans share the responsibility of reducing illness due to flu
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – In his tour of communities throughout the state, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold, along with Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde and local officials, visited the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I) to encourage Illinoisans to get a seasonal flu shot. At the event, Dr. Arnold gave U of I Women’s Basketball Coach Jolette Law; U of I Men’s Basketball players Tyler Griffey and D.J. Richardson; U of I Women’s Basketball player Lacey Simpson; U of I Director of Sports Medicine Al Martindale and U of I Director of McKinley Health Center Dr. Robert Palinkas, seasonal flu shots and urged people to follow the 3 C’s – Clean, Cover, Contain. This fall’s flu season is expected to be worse than previous flu seasons because the new H1N1 flu strain will be circulating at the same time as the seasonal flu. The single best way for a person to protect themselves and their loved ones against the flu is to get vaccinated.
“With increased flu activity due to the addition of the new H1N1 virus, it is more important than ever to get a seasonal flu shot this year,” Dr. Arnold said. “It is also extremely important for everyone to make sure they practice good health hygiene and cough etiquette by following the 3 Cs - Clean – wash your hands frequently and properly to prevent the spread of germs; Cover – your cough and sneeze with a tissue or sleeve – not your hand; and Contain – contain your germs by staying home when you are sick.”
Each year an estimated five to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu. Approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized with complications from the flu and about 36,000 die annually. Flu symptoms include a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or above, headache, body aches, exhaustion, chills and weakness.
“A flu shot is your best weapon to ward off seasonal flu. Because the influenza strains change and mutate each year, it’s important to get a new shot annually,” said Pryde. “We are extremely pleased that Dr. Arnold has taken the time to bring this important message to Champaign-Urbana.”
“Getting the seasonal flu shot before the flu season is in full force gives the body a chance to build up immunities against the virus,” said Martindale. “It’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and getting vaccinated will add additional protection to keep you in your best form all season.”
The flu is spread through coughing or sneezing. People can also get the flu by touching objects carrying the virus, such as telephones and door knobs, and then touching their mouth or nose.
Young children, people with chronic medical conditions and elderly people are at higher risk of complications from seasonal flu and it is critical they get a seasonal flu shot. However, with the new H1N1 flu circulating simultaneously, Dr. Arnold is encouraging all Illinoisans, except those with contraindications, to get a seasonal flu shot this year. The more people who receive a seasonal flu vaccine, the better chance there is to reduce the number of people who become ill and overwhelm our health care systems.
A person does not contract the flu from getting a flu shot. Some people may experience a mild fever, body aches and fatigue for a few days after being vaccinated, and soreness at the injection site. However, this is not because the person has the contracted the flu from the shot.
The seasonal flu shot does not protect against the new H1N1 flu. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is finalizing development of a vaccine for the new H1N1 flu, which is separate from the seasonal flu vaccine. Initial shipments of the new H1N1 vaccine are expected to be available in mid-October. The new H1N1 vaccine is not intended to replace the seasonal flu vaccine – it is intended to be used in addition to seasonal flu vaccine.
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