Flu shots fight new form this year

By on September 23, 2011

SPRINGFIELD—Influenza vaccine is now at local health departments, pharmacies and health care facilities around the state. The Illinois Department of Public Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends people get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Dr. Damon T. Arnold of the Illinois Department of Public Health said vaccines take about two weeks to provide protection.

“Even if you received a flu shot last year, it is important to be vaccinated every year, because the effectiveness of the vaccine declines over the course of a year after vaccination,” he said.

The annual influenza vaccine includes three virus strains and typically one, or all three strains, change from year to year.

To be protected, children, ages six months through eight years, need two doses of influenza vaccine during their first flu season. However, if children in this age group received at least one dose of vaccine last year, they will only need one dose this year because the vaccine has not changed. This year is an exception.

“Every flu season is different and people are affected by the flu differently. Even healthy children and adults can become very sick from the flu,” IDPH Immunization Section Chief Karen McMahon said.

There is a new type of flu shot this year called Fluzone Intradermal, which injects a smaller amount of vaccine just under the skin, as opposed to the regular flu shot, which injects the vaccine into the muscle. For adults who don’t like needles, the intradermal vaccine is given using a needle that is 90 percent smaller than a regular flu shot needle. Fluzone is only recommended for adults, ages 18-64 years. The influenza vaccine is also available in a nasal spray. None of the three forms of vaccine causes influenza.

It is not too early to get your flu shot. You can be vaccinated in September and be protected throughout the entire flu season. The season typically runs from October through May, with the peak in January.

To reduce the spread of influenza and other contagious diseases, it is always important to practice the 3 C’s:
• Clean—properly wash your hands frequently
• Cover—cover your cough and sneeze
• Contain—contain your germs by staying home if you are sick

For more information, log onto www.idph.state.il.us/flu/index.htm.