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Illinois flu case numbers continue to climb

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If you have been putting off getting a flu shot for this season, you may want to reconsider as 2020 is shaping up to be one of the worst flu seasons since 2017.

According to a report from Southern Seven Health Department released Friday, 11,799 people in Illinois have gone to the doctor and reported flu-like symptoms since October with 956 testing positive for flu. More than 250 resulted in hospitalization.

Shawnee Health Same Day Walk-In Clinic in Carbondale said they have seen a rise in flu numbers recently with three positive cases Friday, and more than ten Thursday.

Nurse Practitioner Samantha Christopher said people have all kinds of excuses to put off getting the flu shot, adding, "I think the number one excuse is that, 'the influenza vaccines gives me the flu every year.'"

That's actually your body's immune system doing its job really well, she said.

"You definitely don't get flu from the vaccine," she said, but you can still get the flu and you can pass it on to others. "The difference though is that you're not going to have as many symptoms and you're not going to feel as bad."

Christopher said her clinic had a wave of Influenza type A about a month ago and now they are seeing a rise in Influenza type B. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is the first time in decades Influenza B is more common. They are urging the public, especially the young and the old, to get the vaccine before they get the flu.

"You feel like you got hit by a two-by-four," said Christopher about the signs of the flu, which includes general fatigue and a fever, chills, runny nose, cough and sore throat.

Christopher said the virus can be contagious for up to seven to ten days making prevention even more important.

"People are still medicating themselves enough to go to work and take their children to day care, and this is why it keeps going around," said Christopher. "The Flu vaccine is not 100% -- however that should not deter you from getting the flu vaccine - it makes it where it alleviates the symptoms and hopefully you and your loved ones don't end up in the hospital over the influenza virus."

Taking preventative measures such as hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing and staying home when symptoms arise will help prevent the spread to others.

The CDC says flu activity nationwide has decreased for the second week in a row, however, seven more children died, bringing the total to 39. Data shows at least 13 million cases of the flu in the U.S. this season, with 120,000 hospitalizations and 6,600 deaths.

Joe Rehana

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