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Get ahead of flu season

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 2:16 p.m. CDT

The DeKalb County Health Department announces the start of the flu prevention season, and reminds everyone that the “Flu ends with U.” According to public health administrator Jane Lux, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone six months and older as the single best way to protect against influenza.

“Everyone, every year, should get a flu shot to help protect themselves and their families,” Lux said.

The goal of the prevention campaign is to reduce influenza outbreaks through increased vaccinations and increased awareness of the 3 Cs.

“This should result in more of our county residents staying healthy during flu season,” Lux explained.

It is not too early to get a flu shot. The flu season can begin as early as October, but most commonly peaks in January or February. Flu vaccine provided in September will give protection throughout the season. It takes about two weeks after receiving the vaccine for antibodies to build up in the body, so it is important to get the vaccine before influenza illness begins in the community.

The Health Department offers walk-in flu clinics for adults from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursdays, and for children beginning on Oct. 18. Find clinic schedules and flu vaccine information at  www.dekalbcountyhealthdepartment.org. For current updates, call the Flu Hotline at 815-748-2410 (English) or 815-748-2425 (Spanish).

Influenza affects everyone differently. Even healthy people can get the flu and it can be serious. The CDC estimates flu-associated deaths range between 3,000 and 49,000 annually. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older.

This year’s flu vaccine is safe and is made the same way as past flu vaccines. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an average of 100 million doses of influenza vaccine have been used in the United States each year and the vaccine has an excellent safety record. 

In addition to getting a flu shot, practice the 3Cs to stop the spread of germs and to help prevent the flu:

Clean your hands often with soap and warm water. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands, or use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose.  Contain your germs – stay home if you are ill.

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