H1N1 Flu still causing illness, hospitalizations and deaths

Illinois—During National Influenza Vaccination Week, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold and officials from the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), Chicago Department of Public Health and Cook County Department of Public Health encourage Illinois residents to get their H1N1 vaccination.

“The H1N1 flu continues to circulate throughout the state. Last week, 67 additional hospitalizations and three deaths related to H1N1 flu were reported in Illinois. The amount of illness we are seeing is decreasing, but we are still seeing hospitalizations and deaths related to the H1N1 virus,” Arnold said. “Illinoisans need to avoid becoming complacent. The time to get vaccinated for H1N1 is now.”

After seven consecutive weeks of decreasing influenza-like-illness in outpatients statewide, Illinois saw a slight increase in influenza-like-illness last week. Although the likelihood of a future wave of the H1N1 flu cannot be predicted, health officials know that vaccination is the most important step in protecting against influenza.

“National Influenza Vaccination Week is an important opportunity to recognize that H1N1 flu is a serious disease, and while many cases are mild, some can be deadly. There are still a lot of lives to be saved by getting ourselves and our families vaccinated.” said Cristal Thomas, MPP, Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region V.

Since the H1N1 flu virus began to circulate in April, there have been 2,696 lab-confirmed hospitalizations and 86 deaths related to the H1N1 flu virus in Illinois. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between mid-April and November 14, 2009, 47 million people in the United States were infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu, more than 200,000 people were hospitalized, and over 9,800 people died.

There is now a supply of the H1N1 vaccine available to all Illinois residents who want to be vaccinated. H1N1 vaccine is now available to Illinois residents through local health departments, private physicians, and retail pharmacies. For a list of the nearest public vaccination sites in IL and to learn more about the H1N1 flu, visit www.ready.illinois.gov or www.flu.gov.