Don’t Forget the Flu
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk of serious flu complications. There are two main types of influenza (flu) viruses: Types A and B. The influenza A and B viruses that routinely spread in people (human influenza viruses) are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year. CDC estimates that, between 2010 and 2020, flu has resulted in 9 million to 41 million illnesses, 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 52,000 deaths, annually.
Cook County Department of Public Health collects and analyzes data on local influenza (or flu) activity year-round. During periods when higher influenza activity is expected (generally October to May), this information is compiled into a weekly surveillance report that is distributed to our partners in the healthcare community, schools, community groups, and the public. View 2022-23 influenza surveillance reports here. View our ShinyApp for more detailed surveillance data here.
The best way to reduce the risk of flu and its potentially serious complications is by getting vaccinated each year.
The Fact Is, Everyone Needs a Flu Shot
With rare exception, everyone six months and older should get a flu shot every year – even healthy people. The flu shot is especially important for people at increased risk of serious complications from flu.
- People over age 65
- People of any age with chronic conditions
- Children under age 5
- Pregnant women
The flu shot is the best protection against flu and flu-related illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths. It is safe, effective and available at no cost at many doctors’ offices, pharmacies, community health centers and flu clinics. Don’t wait to vaccinate. Get your flu shot as soon as possible. It takes two weeks to be fully effective. Learn more about the 2020-21 seasonal flu vaccine.
In addition to getting a flu vaccine, take everyday actions to help stop the spread of germs. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your arm. Stay home as much as possible. If you must go out, wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands frequently. Avoid close contact with people that are sick and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
Help Us Spread Facts, Not Flu
Go here to see the most common flu myths and get the facts.
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Updated April 11, 2023, 5:25 PM