DECATUR — Flu shot clinics will be open around Macon County this October with the beginning of the flu season. A higher dose flu shot will be offered for the first time this year for those over 18 years old.
The recombinant influenza vaccine, commonly called flu block or simply a high dosage flu shot, was available last year for people over 65 years old. It is grown without eggs, so people with egg allergies can still get the shot, although they should do so from their doctor or medical provider, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
It is a stronger dose of the flu shot that was designed to create a larger antibody response from the body, offering more protection from the flu.
Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and anyone who may become pregnant cannot get the high-dose vaccine, said Annie Haubner, RN with the Macon County Health Department. These women can receive the regular flu shot instead.
The flu shot is recommended for all people over six months old, although the type and strength of the shot vary, according to the CDC.
“Flu can be a serious illness for some people,” Haubner said. “We encourage everyone, regardless of health history, to get the flu shot.”
Flu season typically is described as between October and May, according to the CDC. The CDC recommends getting a flu shot before the end of October, although it will still be useful after that. Peak infection rates are between December and February.
The flu shot takes two weeks to work, so it is important to get it as soon as possible, Haubner said.
“As soon as they can get out and get it, they should,” Haubner said. “Children should get it and parents should definitely get it to protect their little ones especially if they are less than six months old.”
Patients have already been treated for flu at the hospitals, Haubner said. Some children have had the disease as well.
People are asked to bring their insurance card and wear a short sleeve shirt to get the flu shot. These clinics are for people 18 years and older.
The health department held two clinics last week. Upcoming dates are:
- 9 to 11 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 16: Macon County Senior Center, 1430 N. 22nd St., Decatur
- 9:30 to 11 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 18: First United Methodist Church, 201 W. North St., Decatur
“We’ve had good responses this year. We’ve had more so than in past years,” Hauber said. “I don’t know if it is because we are out earlier, or if it’s because last year there was a lot of flu in the community.”
The 2017-2018 flu season was widespread across the state of Illinois for almost three months, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Hundreds of people were hospitalized because of the disease.
Last year's flu shot was not as effective at preventing the disease as some other years, but medical professionals still say a less effective flu shot is better than nothing. The same advice goes for the 2018-2019 vaccine.
“Even if there is a question about how effective it has been in past years it's still better to have it than to not have it at all,” Haubner said.