McHenry County Health Department has exhausted its vaccine supply but continues to urge anyone six months or older get a flu shot, officials said.
The health department held numerous flu clinics early in the flu season but ran out of the vaccine, spokesman Debra Quackenbush said. Many health care providers and retailers still have the vaccine, she said. MCHD orders a set number of vaccines and was able to distribute at various clinics, she said.
Flu season typically runs from October to May, peaking in February, Quakenbush said. It is impossible to predict how mild or severe the season will be, she added.
So far, the season is off to a busy start, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. “Flu activity continues to increase across the United States. The nation is experience an early flu season with high levels of activity concentrated in the south central and southeastern regions at this time,” the site states.
The CDC received reports from 18 states about widespread geographical influenza activity for the week of Dec. 2-8 while only eight states report activity the week before, according to statistics.
In McHenry County, reporting hospitals had 38 confirmed flu cases since the surveillance period began, Quackenbush. An equal number of cases have been reported for those aged 5 and 17, as well as those aged 18 to 49, she said.
McHenry County hospitals have been seeing more patients with the flu than last year at this time and the reporting has steadily increased through this month, according to the county’s weekly Influenza Surveillance report. Last season, positive tests for flu were not reported until January 2012.
It’s not too late to get the vaccine, Quackenbush said. The CDC states the vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of illness, hospitalization or even death from the flu, she said. It takes about two weeks for the body to build antibodies to provide protection against the flu.
The CDC has a link to HealthMap Vaccine Finder to help you locate places where flu shots are available.
People should be careful during holiday gatherings with family and friends to protect themselves and others from the flu, experts said. Getting a flu shot is the best prevention followed by taking everyday precautions like washing your hands, sneezing into a tissue and throwing it away, the CDC site states. Another good practice is don't touch your mouth, eyes or nose because the flu is spread both through the air and through surfaces, experts said.