Cold And Flu Meds Can Come With Risk For Some Consumers

Jan 13, 2021
Brett Jordan / Unsplash

Cold and flu season is here, but consumers should be aware of potential risk when taking over-the-counter medications.

While cold and flu medications are generally safe, they can interact with common prescription drugs. Shawnna Rhine, outreach coordinator with the Southern Seven Health Department, said many patients aren’t aware of the potential risks.

Egg Allergies No Longer A Reason To Avoid The Flu Shot

Nov 18, 2020

Some people who haven’t been able to get flu shots previously may be able to now.

Dr. Jason West, family physician with Southern Illinois Healthcare, said patients with egg allergies shouldn’t fear getting the flu shot this year.

Flu Vaccines Still Important During The Pandemic

Sep 30, 2020
A hand giving someone a shot in the arm.
National Institutes of Health

Everyone’s talking about COVID-19, but that doesn’t meant you can forget about the flu. Doctors are reminding people to get their flu shot this season.

Doctor Eric Graham, with Heartland Regional Medical Center, said the symptoms of COVID and flu are very similar. He said that while most people’s attention is focused on COVID-19, people should remember the flu is also a very serious illness.

“I’ve seen some of these influenza viruses, H1N1 especially, it’s a very serious bug and I’ve seen that take down young, healthy adults,” Graham said.

Update: As the case count continues to rise, information on this story is moving quickly and may be out-of-date. We recommend checking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for ways to stay safe and this John Hopkins tool for the most recent data

In order to give your viewers a meaningful context in your reporting, please compare the current number of deaths from the COVID-19 virus with the average number of deaths due to the flu in the U.S. over the last decade.

The new coronavirus is still sweeping through the U.S., so it's difficult to draw comparisons to past flu seasons. Looking at the flu and coronavirus in other countries may be helpful. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Emeritus SIU Professor John Martinko about his upcoming Science Cafe, focusing on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.

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.