The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) reminds residents that it is not too late to protect yourself and the health of your families by getting a flu shot. The flu vaccine not only decreases the severity of illness and the duration of symptoms but also decreases the ability of the virus to among families and friends. It is important to seek medical attention if you notice serious symptoms or have any underlying medical conditions to receive appropriate evaluation.
“Getting vaccinated now is still the best way to prevent flu infections and serious flu complications,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, MD. “We are working to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get a flu shot, with fast-track immunization clinics across the city and an interactive online map tool to make it easy to find neighborhood locations.”
Inpatient and outpatient settings are experiencing increased patient volumes due to influenza. So far this season, 203 influenza-related intensive care unit (ICU) hospitalizations and 12 ICU deaths have been reported. CDPH monitors for influenza closely, including reports of Influenza-Like Illness (ILI), number of laboratory tests sent for flu and the number that are positive, number of influenza-related ICU hospitalizations and any deaths that occur in those patients as well as any influenza-related pediatric deaths. This has been an early flu season for every state in the continental US in recent years, most like the 2014-2015 flu season. Although CPDH cannot predict when the flu season will peak or how long it will last, the Department has seen a sharp increase in activity similar to the rest of the country and CDC predicts there are still many weeks of elevated flu activity left.
Most people who get influenza will recover within several days and in less than two weeks. CDPH is encouraging those who have flu-like symptoms to consult their doctor before going to the emergency department. People at high risk of flu complications include young children, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Check with your doctor promptly if you are at high risk of serious flu complications and you are experiencing flu symptoms.
This season, CDPH has already operated 74 walk-in influenza vaccine clinics across the city but continue to make flu vaccine available at 5 Walk-in Immunization clinics. In partnership with Walgreens pharmacy, CDPH plans to make additional flu vaccine available at several locations around the city. Vaccine will be available for no out-of-pocket cost for individuals who are uninsured or unable to pay.
Vaccine will be available during pharmacy hours at the following locations:
11 E. 75th St., Chicago, IL (75th and State)
3201 N. Broadway St., Chicago, IL (Broadway and Belmont)
2340 W. Madison St., Chicago, IL (Madison and Western)
5222 W. Madison St., Chicago, IL (Madison and Laramie)
Chicagoans are encouraged to log on to the City’s easy-to-use, interactive map to find a location near them to get a flu shot, and more information about how to stay healthy is readily available on CDPH’s website. CDPH recommends that individuals receive vaccinations from their own doctor or other regular health care provider. For those without a health care provider, there also are other convenient, affordable opportunities to get a flu shot, including retail pharmacies and CDPH Walk-in Immunization Clinics.
The main tools to use for treatment are antiviral drugs which can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by 1 or 2 days. They also can prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. For people at high risk of serious flu complications, treatment with antiviral drugs can mean the difference between milder or more serious illness possibly resulting in a hospital stay. Other ways to stop the spread of viruses like flu include washing your hands often, covering your cough and sneeze, staying home if you are sick and avoiding those who are sick.