CHICAGO — We’re in the thick of flu season, but there’s some good news to share. Experts are seeing lower levels of the severe disease compared to last year.
But a local report released Thursday sparked concern and prompted healthcare experts to speak out.
Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Dr Julie Morita said Thursday it is not too later to get a flu shot.
“Many people believe it’s too late to get a flu vaccine, but it is not too late,” she said.
A report released by Morita and her department and Lurie Children’s Hospital showed Chicago parents have doubts about the flu vaccine.
“In fact, 14 percent overall refused vaccines, and 83 percent of parents refused flu vaccine, in particular,” Dr Matthew Davis of Lurie Children’s Hospital said. “It was the most commonly refused vaccine overall.”
“It’s a really serious infection,” Morita said. “For most people they will recover, but for some people, young children, people with chronic underlying health disease, such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, those kinds of individuals can get very, very sick and end up in the hospital.”
More than 1000 parents representing all 77 neighborhoods in the city were surveyed. Two-thirds cited worry about short and long-term adverse side effects. About one-third believed the flu vaccine simply isn’t necessary.
“So it’s especially important for everyone to hear that side effects from flu vaccine are as common and as mild as side effects from other vaccines,” Davis said. “There’s usually a little bit of redness or pain at the site where the vaccine is given, but what I emphasize to my patients is that minor inconvenience of a flu vaccine is much better than the seriousness of flu illness.”
The CDC recommends that all children 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine. And if you don’t have insurance, you can call 311 and the city will direct you to a healthcare provider where you can obtain a free flu shot.