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Start the new year by getting a flu shot

The Lake County Health Department is offering two types flu vaccine: flu shot which is given with needle nasal spray

The Lake County Health Department is offering two types of flu vaccine: the flu shot, which is given with a needle, and the nasal spray, which is sprayed into the nose. | AP file

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Prevention measures

Although getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent getting influenza, you can also reduce your risk by:

• Washing your hands regularly with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

• Practicing good cough etiquette, such as coughing into your elbow instead of your hands.

• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth; germs are spread this way.

• Avoiding close contact with sick people.

If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.

Health Department clinics

The Health Department is offering two types of flu vaccine: the flu shot, which is given with a needle, and the nasal spray, which is sprayed into the nose. While anyone six months of age or older can receive the shot, the nasal spray vaccine (LAIV) is for healthy persons 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.

It is important that persons 65 and over bring their Medicare part B cards with them as it will cover the cost of the flu and pneumonia vaccines. Medicaid and All Kids will also be accepted. Fees are $29 for the flu vaccine and $62 for the pneumonia vaccine. For an extra charge, a high-dose vaccine will be available for the elderly and a vaccine manufactured without the use of eggs will be available for those with egg allergies. Children 18 years of age and younger who have no insurance, or whose insurance does not fully cover the cost of vaccines, may receive a flu shot for $16.

The Health Department is just one of several locations offering the flu vaccine this year as it is available at pharmacies and at other providers throughout Lake County. For more information, visit: http://health.lakecountyil.gov/Population/Pages/Influenza.aspx or contact the Health Department at: (847) 377-8470.

Updated: March 3, 2014 3:14PM



Even though it’s not as exotic as a polar bear plunge, getting a flu shot might be the smartest way to start 2014.

Flu is active in Lake County, and not just the seasonal variety. Lake County Health Department officials said this week that seven people have been hospitalized with flu recently, including three residents with confirmed cases of H1N1, or swine flu, which hit epidemic levels in 2009.

The good news is that this year’s flu vaccine is readily available and contains protection against H1N1.

“We are approaching the peak of the flu season and we’re seeing the reemergence of H1N1,” said Victor Plotkin, an epidemiologist with the Health Department.

The local cases of H1N1 so far have included a 10-year-old girl and two middle-aged residents. Health Department officials said the locations of the confirmed cases to date are not important because the flu is traveling everywhere, just as people are this time of year.

“We don’t know how this season will turn out but the seven cases are a good reminder that we need to take this season seriously,” Plotkin said.

Plotkin also stressed that the confirmed cases probably represent only a fraction of the cases of H1N1 that have hit Lake County due to unreported and unconfirmed cases.

Prevention

He said the first and most important line of defense is getting vaccinated. This season’s flu shot offers good protection against swine flu.

“This sub strain of the virus is an excellent match with the vaccine. People really have a way to prevent it,” Plotkin said.

Flu shots are available at doctor’s offices, health facilities, drug stores and Health Department clinics across the county.

Other important practices in flu prevention and containment include frequent hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough and staying home from work or school if you are sick, officials said.

Public health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older should be vaccinated against influenza, especially pregnant women, young children, people 65 years of age and older, and anyone with underlying health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or a weakened immune system.

A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing.

People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs.

Less often, a person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Complications of the flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.

Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000.



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