Influenza activity is increasing nationwide and in Illinois. Many counties throughout the state are seeing more influenza-like-illnesses (100ºF or higher fever plus cough and/or sore throat), an increase in flu-related intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, and more people testing positive for the flu.
“Flu season typically peaks between December and February and runs until May, so it is not too late to get a flu shot,” said Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “Anyone can get the flu, even healthy people. Getting a flu shot is the first and most important step in protecting you and those around you against flu viruses.”
To help protect hospital and health care patients who are more susceptible to complications from influenza, IDPH recommends hospitals and health care facilities implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) comprehensive influenza prevention and control recommendations. IDPH also supports implementing temporary visitor restriction policies in hospitals, which may include the following:
- Do not allow visits from people younger than 18 years of age.
- Promote compliance with hand and respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
- Assess visitors for symptoms of acute respiratory illness (fever, cough, sore throat).
- Request that visitors with acute respiratory illness symptoms not visit.
- Limit visits to patients who are in isolation due to influenza.
Influenza is spread mainly when people with the flu cough or sneeze. The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and can even result in hospitalizations or death. People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years and older.
In addition to getting a flu shot, IDPH recommends following the 3 C’s: clean, cover, and contain.
Clean – frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water.
Cover – cover your cough and sneeze.
Contain – contain your germs by staying home if you are sick.
To find a location to get a flu shot in your community, check with your local health department or log onto the IDPH website to use the Flu Vaccine Finder