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Health official pitches vaccine as flu season begins

Published: Monday, Sept. 24, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Sept. 24, 2012 11:30 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Kyle Bursaw – kbursaw@shawmedia.com)
Ann Lehan, owner and pharmacist at Lehan Drugs, gives Donald Schiltz of Sycamore a flu vaccination Thursday.

DeKALB – The summer is over and a new season has begun: flu season.

The DeKalb County Health Department, along with other commercial retailers and local health services, have begun to sell flu vaccines for the 2012-13 influenza season.

Jane Lux, public health administrator for DeKalb County, said the department hopes to prevent the spread of influenza with its “Flu Ends With U” campaign by having everyone older than six months inoculated.

The health department began offering vaccinations Thursday to adults 19 and older who walk in. The walk-in clinics will continue from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. every Thursday through Oct. 11. Those 18 and younger will be accepted starting Oct. 18. The walk-in clinics will continue from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. every Thursday through Nov. 15.

Lux said the staggered start time was because of supply and not related to the department’s flu prevention efforts.

“If people still want flu shots and we have the vaccines, we’ll probably extend that,” Lux said.

She said they have at least 2,000 doses of vaccine for adults and 2,000 for children this year.

Northern Illinois University Health Services also has begun offering flu shots, but its supply is restricted to currently enrolled students, a spokeswoman at the agency said.

In addition to being vaccinated, people can decrease their chances of catching the flu by practicing the three Cs, Lux said. People should clean their hands often with soap and water; cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing; and contain germs by staying home when they’re sick.

Although staying home when sick is one of the best methods of containment, not everyone can afford to do so, Lux said. She is sympathetic to their plight, but being around other people is risky.

“If you could isolate yourself in an office where nobody else is, that would be the best,” Lux said.

Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the agency does not have a forecast for how widespread or deadly this year’s flu season may be; however, the agency does predict what kind of flu strains might be common this year. Skinner said they are influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses and influenza A (H3N2) viruses.

“Each year, one flu virus of each kind is used to produce seasonal influenza vaccine,” Skinner said.

The CDC estimates deaths associated with the flu can range from as little as 3,000 to 49,000 a year, mostly in adults 65 years and older. Lux said there have been people in the county who have died from the flu, but she said it’s not always reported as a flu-related death.

To get a flu shot at the DeKalb County Health Department, patients should bring in a current photo ID and a Medicare or Medicaid card, if necessary. Lux said patients can also download the consent form from the department’s website and complete it beforehand.

There is a $38 charge for the shot, which is payable by cash, check and credit card. Children enrolled in the department’s Vaccine For Children program can receive the shot for $15.

Know more

The DeKalb County Health Department is offering walk-in flu shots for adults on Thursdays from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. through Oct. 11. Children can receive flu shots at these same times starting Oct. 18 through Nov. 15.

For more information, call 815-748-2410 (English) or 815-748-2425 (Spanish) or go to www.dekalbcounty.org/health.

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