Flu season is in full swing, and it’s not too late to get vaccinated.
The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting widespread influenza activity in Illinois, and Jane Lux, administrator for the DeKalb County Health Department, said local activity is consistent with the rest of state.
“Influenza is not a reportable disease, so we really don’t know how many cases there are in the county,” Lux said. “The only thing that needs to be reported is intensive care unit admissions, and the county hospitals have had none.”
Lux said the Centers for Disease Control has a program for voluntarily reporting from several sites around the country.
“That’s how they get their data,” she said.
The CDC’s use of the word “widespread” means that more than half of the geographic regions in the state are reporting flu activity, “but not necessarily its severity,” Lux said.
Health department staff members talk with health care providers and schools, so they know when activity is occurring locally, Lux said.
Although January is considered the peak flu season, Lux said it’s not too late to get vaccinated.
“Our push in September and October is to prevent it, but flu season continues through March and April,” Lux said. “The more people that get vaccinated, the better protected everyone is.”
Lux said it takes about two weeks for the antibodies to build up in the body to develop immunity.
Local pharmacists said they are still seeing people coming in for vaccines.
“There has been a slight upswing of people coming in for the vaccine,” said Roger Stedman, DeKalb Walgreens pharmacist. “The number always picks up a little when there’s media attention.”
Lux said people often are reminded they didn’t get vaccinated when they see or hear something in the news, or when someone they know people who get sick.
Hy-Vee pharmacist Joe Jaszczak said numbers picked up a couple of weeks ago, but have slowed again.
“It’s definitely not too late to get vaccinated,” Jaszczak said. “You can get the vaccine in April and then get one again at the beginning of the season next September.”
Lux said that, along with the vaccine, it’s important to remember the three Cs – clean, cover and contain – are preventive measures.
• Clean your hands frequently with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
• Cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or by sneezing or coughing into your elbow.
• Contain germs by staying home if you’re already sick.
“That advice isn’t exciting,” Lux said, “but those three things are really important.”
Where to get a flu shot
• Walk-in clinic at the DeKalb County Health Department, 2550 Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb. For information, call 815-758-6673.
• Check with your health care provider, clinic or favorite pharmacy.
• Find a vaccine provider at www.flu.gov. Click on the vaccination and prevention tab, scroll down to “Ffind where can I get a vaccine” and enter your ZIP Code.
• Costs vary at each location, and many will bill Medicare or private insurance providers.