There's still time to get a flu shot before peak flu season

CHICAGO -- If you haven't had a flu shot yet, there's still time. The holiday season is also flu season, and health experts are encouraging people to get vaccinated before the season peaks in January.

During the holidays it can be difficult to make flu shots a top priority.

"I usually get them at the end of September, October," said pharmacist Heather Jenskey, "but it keeps slipping my mind and I've been really busy."

But Jensky took a few minutes Tuesday to get her shot. She works at Walgreens, which has delivered 5.7 million doses to customers since September.

"Flu season is unpredictable and can come on aggressively," Nancy Salman, Walgreens' pharmacy manager. "So it's important to get it because you really don't know what's going to happen."

Walgreens, along with health departments for Illinois and Chicago, have been compiling data to determine how widespread flu is in the state. Overall, there has been an increased risk of flu infection since mid-November and flu season typically peaks in January.

Illinois ranks seventh out of the top 10 states for flu activity, based on weekly retail prescriptions for antiviral medications.

So far this season 20 people in the state have been admitted to hospitals for the flu and three have died. Health officials say this is a grave reminder of the severity of the flu.

"It's not too late to get vaccinated, and people can continue to get vaccinated through flu season," said Dr. Julie Morita of the Chicago Department of Public Health, "but now is a great time to get vaccinated because it takes a couple weeks for vaccine to work."

The Chicago Department of Public Health is spearheading Vaccinate Illinois Week, from Dec. 7 to 13. If you haven't already been vaccinated, you're encouraged to go to your doctor or pharmacist to get a flu shot. Health officials say there are plenty of vaccines to go around.