SPRINGFIELD—To help stay healthy during the holidays and all year, give the gift of health by getting an influenza vaccination to not only protect you, but others as well.
National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), Dec. 4-10, is a national observance established to highlight the importance of influenza vaccinations and encourage more people to be vaccinated after the holiday season, into January and beyond. It is not too late to vaccinate.
“Getting vaccinated is the single best way for people to protect not only themselves against flu, but their loved ones as well,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Acting Director Dr. Kenneth Soyemi. “The flu season typically runs from October to May, with the peak around January, so get vaccinated today before all the holiday parties and family gatherings.”
One of the biggest myths about the flu is a person gets the flu from a flu shot. The influenza vaccine cannot give you the flu. Why? Because the flu shot contains killed viruses, and the nasal spray has weakened viruses that cannot cause illness. If you get flu-like symptoms soon after being vaccinated, it can mean you may have been exposed to the flu before getting vaccinated, or during the two-week period it takes the body to build up protection after vaccination. It might also mean you are sick with another illness that causes symptoms similar to the flu.
Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever. If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine). You can also go to a doctor for antiviral drugs, which can make illness milder, shorten the time you are sick and may prevent serious complications.
Both the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend everyone six months and older receive the influenza vaccine. People at high risk of serious influenza complications, including young children; pregnant women; people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease; and people 65 years and older, should make getting vaccinated a priority.
Vaccination is also important for health care workers and others who live with or care for high-risk people to keep from spreading flu to high risk people. For example, children younger than six months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated.
Influenza vaccinations are available in many doctor’s offices, local health departments, health clinics, pharmacies and other health care providers.
There is a new type of flu shot this year called Fluzone Intradermal. This intradermal shot injects a smaller amount of vaccine just under the skin, as opposed to the regular flu shot, which injects the vaccine into the muscle. For adults who don’t like needles, the intradermal vaccine is given using a needle that is 90 percent smaller than a regular flu shot needle. Fluzone is only recommended for adults, ages 18-64 years. The influenza vaccine is also available in a nasal spray for ages 2-49 years. None of the three forms of vaccine causes influenza.
This year’s flu vaccine is made in the same way as past flu vaccines and has been approved by the FDA. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an average of 100 million doses of influenza vaccine has been used in the United States each year and has an excellent safety record.
Currently we are only seeing sporadic influenza activity in Illinois, a few laboratory confirmed cases.
To reduce the spread of influenza, it is also important to practice the 3 C’s –
• Clean—properly wash your hands frequently
• Cover—cover your cough and sneeze
• Contain—contain your germs by staying home if you are sick
For more information, log onto www.idph.state.il.us/flu/index.htm.