Lake Co. residents among first to get flu shots

September 10, 2010 (CHICAGO) With summer still in the rearview mirror, you may not be thinking of that rite of the colder weather months, the annual flu shot.

But 250 seniors and others took advantage of Lake County's first public clinic to get inoculated against a scourge that takes up to 49,000 lives every year.

"I think it should be almost mandatory. I mean, it really has protected me for many years," said Gurnee flu shot recipient Betty Anhold.

Anhold wasn't the only one. A group of clients from the assisted living charity Clearbrook received the attention of four nurses onboard their bus outside the clinic.

The administration of this year's flu shot appears to be a little bit easier than it was last year when the entire process was complicated by the arrival of a brand new strain of flu. Remember H1N1?

The new virus cropped up late in the flu season-- in March -- and caused widespread concern over having to produce, distribute and administer a vaccine for it, along with the shot that had already been developed. The Centers for Disease Control and state authorities faced an unprecedented challenge getting the new vaccine to people quickly.

"Last year was very complicated, but so far this year, we are back to what appears to be a normal flu season, and the positive thing is the H1N1 strain is part of this year's shot," said Leslie Piotrowski, Lake County Health Department.

Last year's experience is more reason for 94-year-old Julia Wojtarowicz to act early this year.

"It is important to me because I feel I want to make sure, that especially at my age, that I should get one so that it helps me to stay well, and so far, I have been fortunate," Wojtarowicz said.

That kind of testimony is what the state's top public health official likes to hear.

"It is very important to go out and get the vaccination if you are in the age range of 6 months to 9 years: one vaccination, then a booster 4 weeks later. If you are an adult, to get the vaccination is one dose," said Dr. Damon Arnold of the Ilinois Department of Public Health.

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