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State

Here's how to protect friends and family from the flu

Nurse B.K. Morris gives a flu shot to Winifred Quinn during a news event about the flu vaccine Sept. 17, 2015, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Nurse B.K. Morris gives a flu shot to Winifred Quinn during a news event about the flu vaccine Sept. 17, 2015, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. experiences “flu season” peaks between December and February, but the disease typically lasts from October through May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Centegra Health System’s chief medical information officer and infectious disease specialist Irfan Hafiz said it is difficult to predict how flu seasons might play out.

“Wisconsin and Missouri already had widespread diseases as of last week,” Hafiz said Thursday. “For us, it’s been less widespread.”

Experts expect the number of patients with flu-like symptoms in Illinois to increase within the next week, Hafiz said.

Hafiz stressed the importance of getting vaccinated, especially to protect the young, old and those with medical conditions.

He said flu vaccines lessen symptoms and reduce complications.

“It’s always a good idea to get it – it doesn’t have to be perfect,” Hafiz said. “It just has to be good enough.”

Aside from the vaccine, it always is a good idea to wash hands frequently, cover coughs and stay away from anyone who might be sick during flu season. The CDC estimated that the flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year in the U.S. since 2010.

The national organization also suggests getting a flu shot rather than using the nasal spray vaccine during the 2017-18 season.

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