The Morgan County Health Department along with the Illinois Department of Public Health is urging the public that it is still not too late to get a flu shot. The first week in December is designated as National Influenza Immunization Awareness week. Jacqui Barringer of the Morgan County Health Department says that it’s a good idea to get your shot now before the holidays. Barringer says that in the late Fall, there is usually a big push to get shots ahead of the peak flu season in January and February. She says that the peak can come early or late. She says not to wait around to see what’s going on, but to get the shot now so that the antibodies can get into your system.
Barringer says that reporting data is a week behind, but a few prominent strains have shown up so far at sentinel sites: “B is the prominent strain that’s been going around, followed closely by H1N1 and the two A strains. Is it a match for the flu shot right now? That’s a question we ask every year. We hope that it is. Right now it is looking good. We know that flu can change at any time. If you get a flu shot, and it turns out in January or February that the flu has drifted, you can still get some help from that shot. There are crossover antibodies. Now, is the time to get the shot because it takes two weeks for your bodies to build those antibodies.”
While it is difficult to predict how severe or how long the flu season will be, Illinois is seeing an increase in flu activity similar to previous flu seasons, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Barringer says that the holidays and the winter time is some of the most common time to catch the flu because people are inside together. She says some people don’t even know that they even have the virus.
Barringer says that we need to remember the 3 C’s: cover your cough, clean yourself by washing your hands and keeping hands out of your face, and contain your germs by staying home if you are sick. Barringer says that if you need a flu shot and cannot afford one, the Morgan County Health Department still has them available and will work with those who have no insurance and low incomes. You can also use IDPH’s Vaccine Finder online to find a place nearest you that offers the flu shot. Visit the Health Department online for more information.