WINNEBAGO COUNTY – To reduce the risk of illness, public health departments and healthcare organizations across the state, including the Winnebago County Health Dept., are encouraging residents to get a flu shot during Vaccinate Illinois Week, Dec. 6-12.

Vaccinate Illinois Week is a statewide observance focused on educating the public about the importance of flu vaccine during the fall and winter months.

“We would like to remind residents not to forget that influenza is a serious disease, which can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death,” said Winnebago County Health Department Administrator, Sandra Martell, RN, DNP. “The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.”

Public health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older should be vaccinated against influenza, including parents with children at home, teens, college students, adults, grandparents who take care of grandchildren and in particular pregnant women, young children, people 65 years of age and older, and anyone with underlying health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or a weakened immune system. A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing.

People with flu can spread it to others as far as 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has a flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

You cannot get the flu from the flu shot because the vaccine consists of an inactive virus that helps to stimulate the body’s defense systems to fight off “real” viruses when you come in contact with those viruses.

In addition to getting a flu shot, you can also reduce your risk by:

Washing your hands regularly with soap and water.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Practicing good cough etiquette, such as coughing into your elbow instead of your hands.

Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth; germs are spread this way.

Avoiding close contact with sick people. If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.

Some people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu.  This includes older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and persons who live in facilities like nursing homes. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

Flu shots are available at the Winnebago County Health Dept. To make an appointment for a flu shot, please call (815) 720-4370. The Health Dept. is offering a walk-in clinic on Friday, Dec. 11, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at our 401 Division St. location.

Cost for the flu shot is $35 for the Quadrivalent, or $45 for the High Dose vaccine for Senior citizens, ages 65 years and older.

We can accept Medicare Part B and several additional Medicare replacement insurances. For the list of accepted insurance policies, please call (815) 720-4274, or go to the Winnebago County Health Department website at

A limited supply of flu shots are also available for individuals who have no insurance or income, or their current insurance does not cover the cost of the flu shot.

For more information, visit the Winnebago County Health Department website: at or by phone at (815) 720-4000.

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