SPRINGFIELD – As soon as the influenza vaccine is available in your community, the Illinois Department of Public Health recommends everyone 6 months and older be vaccinated.
Because of concerns about how well the nasal spray vaccine worked during the past two flu seasons, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is recommending people get a flu shot and not the nasal spray. Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu.
“We recommend people get a flu shot by the end of October, if possible. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body’s immune response to fully respond and for you to be protected,” IDPH Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah said in a news release. Therefore, it’s better to be vaccinated before flu viruses start circulating.
The flu season typically begins in October and peaks between December and March. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness. Serious cases of flu can result in hospitalization or death.
Getting a flu shot can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school because of the flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from flu, especially those who may not be able to be vaccinated, such as babies under 6 months. Anyone can get the flu, even healthy people.
Getting a flu shot is the first and most important step in protecting you and those around you against flu viruses.
Flu symptoms can include fever or feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache, tiredness and some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.
The flu typically is spread by droplets when someone with the flu talks, coughs or sneezes. People also can get the flu by touching something, such as a door handle, that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose.
On average, it’s about two days after being exposed to the flu before symptoms begin. However, you can pass the flu to someone roughly a day before you start experiencing those symptoms, and up to five to seven days after becoming sick.
In addition to getting a flu shot, IDPH recommends following the 3 Cs: clean, cover and contain.
• Clean – frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water.
• Cover – cover your cough and sneeze.
•Contain – contain your germs by staying home if you are sick.
Influenza antiviral drugs can be a second line of defense for treatment of some who get sick with the flu. Many observational studies have found that in addition to lessening the duration and severity of symptoms, antiviral drugs can prevent flu complications.
To find a location to get a flu shot, check with your health care provider or local health department or visit vaccinefinder.org.