Chicago Flu Season Approaches, Time for Shots is Now
It seems like it just left town, but Chicago’s flu season is on its way back.
Though the chances for catching the flu typically peak in December through February, according to the Centers for Disease Control outbreaks have occurred as early as October and as late as May.
The Chicago Department of Public Health and health agencies in Cook and the collar counties urge residents to receive their flu shots as soon as possible, as this year’s vaccine is now available. Everyone over the age of 6 months should receive the vaccine unless they are in poor health or have an allergy to it, the CDC says.
“While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season,” the CDC says. “People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.”
Obtaining an annual flu shot or nasal mist vaccine has become such an important part of fighting the virus that workers at more than half of Chicago’s hospitals are mandated to receive them, according to reports. Workers at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove have been required to receive the vaccine since 2011, and hospital-acquired flu mortality rates fell to zero in 2011-13, according hospital data.
The CDC says it’s difficult to measure the effectiveness of the a flu vaccine because of variations in people being vaccinated and the vaccines. However, recent studies “supported the conclusion that flu vaccination benefits public health, especially when the flu vaccine is well matched to circulating flu viruses.”
Where to get it
The flu shot is available by making an appointment with your regular family physician or at walk-in clinics, local public health agencies and pharmacies. Finding a location in your neighborhood is as easy as entering your zip code in the federal government’s flu shot finder.
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