The Illinois Department of Public Health is continuing to encourage citizens to get vaccinated against the H1N1 influenza virus.
“It’s not too late to get vaccinated,” emphasizes Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “Although flu activity has declined, the H1N1 flu virus continues to circulate, with cases and deaths from H1N1 flu still being reported in Illinois. Influenza vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu,” Dr. Arnold says. “Anyone who wants protection from H1N1 flu should get vaccinated. The vaccination is especially important for those people with underlying health conditions.”
In past pandemics, flu activity has occurred in waves, and it’s possible the United States could experience another upswing in H1N1 flu cases in the spring and fall of 2010, or localized outbreaks, warns the State Dept. of Public Health. It has been almost a year since the H1N1 flu first surfaced in the U.S.
Ongoing vaccination of people with certain health conditions is particularly important because most cases of serious H1N1 illness – especially those requiring hospitalization – occur in people with underlying medical conditions. Health conditions that increase the risk of being hospitalized from H1N1 include lung disease like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, heart disease, or neurologic disease, and pregnancy.
However, healthy people with no underlying conditions have also suffered severe cases of H1N1 flu. Lisa Amoriso of Bridgeport, Illinois, was in a coma for almost the entire month of November, clinging to life as the H1N1 virus attacked her body. In Health Department TV ads, she talks about her experience, saying her greatest regret is deciding not to get vaccinated.
Those wishing to get vaccinated should contact their medical providers or the Chicago Department of Public Health. For information and to find the nearest vaccination site, visit www.ready.illinois.gov or call the Illinois Flu Hotline at 1-866-848-2094.