A new Illinois statute aims to boost flu shot rates among healthcare workers by making it harder for employees to decline the vaccine.

Lawmakers say this is important in light of last year’s flu season that killed more people than car crashes and drug overdoses. But some on the frontlines of public health worry that a law that’s not enforced will have little effect.

Last year brought a lot of flu activity across the state and this year health professionals are urging the public to roll up their sleeves and get flu shots early this year. 

Influenza is hitting Illinois a little harder this flu season.

More cases of the flu are being  confirmed now than at the same time last year.


In the middle of December the CDC changed Illinois’ status from regional to widespread.

Heartland Regional Medical Center, SIH hospitals and SSM hospitals have temporarily changed their visitation recommendations to protect patients, staff and visitors from influenza.

Several areas throughout Illinois are experiencing heightened flu activity and one preliminary report shows the flu vaccine may only be 10% effective.  

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Michelle McLernon of the Jackson County Health Department and Caleb Nehring of the American Cancer Society about a new initiative to offer colon cancer screenings along with flu shots this year.

The Jackson County Health Department says now is the time to get a flu shot for the upcoming season.

Director of Nursing Karen Brown says it's difficult to predict the severity of each flu season. But, she says the best thing to do is get the vaccine before any positive cases hit the community.

Federal health officials are urging all Americans to get their flu shots as soon as possible, and are especially concerned that too few elderly people are getting vaccinated.

"Flu is serious. Flu is unpredictable," Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters during a joint briefing Thursday with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "Flu often does not get enough respect."

WSIU/Kevin Boucher

The Jackson County Health Department is recommending the Flu shot for those over the age of six months.  For complete information visit:  http://www.jchdonline.org/index.php/component/content/article?id=185:general-information-about-shots-immunizations-or-vaccinations

Flu cases are showing up in all areas of the state.


The flu is spreading across the state of Illinois. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the state's influenza activity as "wide spread."

Illinois Department of Public Health

Illinois is among 30 states reporting high flu activity in a season where the virus is striking earlier than usual and the main flu strain is one that tends to make people sicker.

Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold says as of Friday 476 people have been admitted to hospital intensive care units with the flu this season and 50 have died. Last week there were nine patients in hospital intensive care units with the flu, a decrease from 31 the previous week.

Public health officials continue to encourage people to get vaccinated.


For the protection of patients and their families during this time of increased flu activity, a temporary visitor restriction policy is now in effect at hospitals managed by Southern Illinois Healthcare.