MT. VERNON — Flu cases are on the rise in Illinois this season and state and local health officials are urging the public to get vaccinated.
Locally, flu activity just recently began in Jefferson County. Late December and early January is the typical time period for when the virus first appears in this area.
“Our flu typically hits this time of year,” said Becky Brooks, director of nursing for the Jefferson County Health Department.
Brooks said she has not noticed any alarming trends in flu activity in the Mt. Vernon area. She was unaware of any flu-related hospitalizations or deaths in the county so far this season.
Still, the health department is recommending everyone 6 months or older get a flu shot, especially pregnant women, Brooks said.
“The flu vaccine is your first line of defense,” Brooks said.
The local health department no longer has any adult flu vaccine available, Brooks said. However, the department does still have vaccines for children.
The Vaccine For Children program at the health department is available to children 18 and under who are covered by Medicaid. Also, other children could qualify for the program if their insurance does not pay for the vaccine.
Brooks said adult flu shots are offered at local pharmacies and doctor’s offices, which is why the health department did not acquire more adult vaccines.
“There are plenty of places here in Mt. Vernon that people can go,” Brooks said.
Officials at Walgreens and Kroger Pharmacy said Wednesday their stores do have adult flu vaccines in stock.
CVS Pharmacy has the high dose vaccine for those 65 and older, but is out of the regular vaccine. Byrd-Watson Drug, the Medicine Shoppe and Lincolnshire Pharmacy do not have the vaccine.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there have been 122 serious flu-related hospitalizations and six deaths in the state so far this season. IDPH officials expect these numbers to increase as winter continues.