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  2004 Press Releases  

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Januari Smith
Phone: 1-217-558-1544, TTY: 1-800-252-8966

October 7, 2004

Don't Give Up on Getting Flu Shot, Leader Says

SPRINGFIELD – Due to the recent news concerning a shortage of flu vaccines, Illinois Department on Aging Director Charles D. Johnson is emphasizing the importance of flu shots for senior citizens.

"I encourage seniors to keep trying to get the shot, even though it takes time and patience," Director Johnson said. "The protection offered by the flu shot is well worth the wait."

Johnson also reminded older people who have not taken the pneumonia shot that there is no shortage for the protective inoculation, which lasts for 20 to 30 years.

Many health professionals across the country are urging those who donít necessarily need a vaccination to take a step back and give priority to those who really need it, including people 65 years of age and older.

Influenza, commonly called "the flu" is a contagious respiratory illness, resulting in illness ranging from mild to severe and life-threatening complications, such as bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the single best way to avoid the flu is to get a vaccination every year in late October. The CDC estimates that 10 to 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu each year, an average of 114,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications and 36,000 die each year from those complications.

"It’s very important that this vulnerable population protect themselves. Seniors already have a weakened immune system. Catching the flu can complicate existing health problems and could result in death." Director Johnson explained.

For more information, call the Senior HelpLine: 1-800-252-8966 (Voice and TTY) .

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