Ryan Gage email@example.com
CHICAGO – Flu activity has gradually increased in Chicago over the last couple of weeks indicating that flu season has arrived. The majority of the 23 flu-associated ICU hospitalizations reported from December 29, 2013 to January 4, 2014, were due to the influenza A (2009 H1N1) virus, which has circulated worldwide as a seasonal flu virus since the flu pandemic in 2009.
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommends yearly vaccination as the best protection against the flu and lists citywide flu vaccination locations online at www.ChicagoFluShots.org.
“Flu season is here but it isn’t too late to get a flu shot,” said Dr. Julie Morita, CDPH Medical Director for the Immunization Program. “All influenza vaccines available this year including the nasal spray will provide protection against the influenza A strain causing the majority of disease.”
Today, CDPH released the weekly influenza surveillance report showing 64 flu-associated ICU hospitalizations reported since September 29, including 24 cases positive for 2009 H1N1. While it’s not possible to predict which influenza viruses will predominate through the entire flu season, if the 2009 H1N1 virus continues to circulate widely, young and middle-aged adults may be disproportionately impacted by influenza.
“The flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death,” Dr. Morita continued. “Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Getting vaccinated is safe and is the best and most effective way to avoid the flu.”
Everyone aged 6 months and older should get a flu vaccination each year to protect themselves and their loved ones.
People with influenza-like illness who are at high risk for complications should seek care promptly to determine if treatment with influenza antiviral medications is warranted. These people include young children, senior citizens, pregnant women, people with chronic underlying diseases (e.g., lung, heart, kidney, liver, blood, neurologic or immune systems), diabetics, morbidly obese, American Indians, Alaska Natives, residents of nursing homes, and people younger than 19 years old who take aspirin regularly.
Chicagoans should ask their health care provider about vaccine availability. Residents without a health care provider or whose health care provider does not have the influenza vaccine can call 311 or go to www.chicagoflushots.org to locate the closest City of Chicago clinic or retail pharmacy.
Additional flu prevention tips and more information on the flu in Chicago are available online at www.CityofChicago.org/FLU.