Flu season, according to the Center for Disease Control, typically begins in the fall and peaks in January or February.
Those who do not want to risk the runny nose and coughing fits may choose to receive the flu shot.
“You could be healthy and be a carrier of it, so people should get a shot, if for no other reason than to not help spread the flu,” pharmacist Dave Newell said. “Folks who are more susceptible to the flu are people that have chronic diseases like heart disease or other chronic ailments like chronic pulmonary disease. People undergoing cancer treatment and people living in nursing homes are more susceptible to it as well.”
While the country may be in the thick of flu season, Newell said it is not too late to get the vaccine.
“They (the government) try to predict the flu virus very far in advance,” Newell said. “They take the vaccine, produce it and then distribute it to the pharmacies in early summer. The optimal time to get the vaccine is in the early fall, at the peak of the season because it takes three or four weeks for the immunity to build up.
“Getting one now is actually a little late. We are seeing a lot of people getting it now, though, because they are seeing the outbreak of the flu in the south. It is better to get it late than to not get it.”
When people hear that the flu vaccine can keep them from getting sick, it sounds nice but people may not know what is at work in keeping them healthy.
“It’s an attenuated virus, not a live virus, that is injected into your body,” Newell said. “Your body then recognizes the proteins that make up the virus and then create defenses to fight it.
“You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. There are two ways the flu vaccine is administered. One is the shot, which is not a live virus. The other is the nasal spray and that is given only to children. That is a live virus so after someone gets it, they may exhibit some flu-like symptoms.”
For those looking for a flu shot, there are a variety of places to go.
Walgreens in East Peoria, located at 300 Main St., offers flu shots around the clock, every day.
CVS offers flu shots while the pharmacy is open. The cost is $31.99.
The Washington CVS pharmacy is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Morton’s CVS, located at 1005 Jackson St., has pharmacy hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
The Eureka Pharmacy, located at 501 Center St., has pharmacy hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
East Peoria’s CVS, located at 2540 Washington St., has pharmacy hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Kroger, at 201 South Main St. in East Peoria, 603 South Fourth St. in Chillicothe, 20 Cherry Tree Shopping Centre in Washington, 1001 West Jackson St. in Morton, all offer the flu shot during regular pharmacy hours. For those paying out of pocket, the cost is $25.
The Woodford County Health Department, located at 1831 Main St. in Eureka, offers the shots from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays or by appointment from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Metamora Pharmacy, located at 117 Mount Vernon St. in Metamora, offers the flu shot during regular hours (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Having that many places to get the vaccine is something people would not have seen several years ago.
“We use to not have this type of access to the vaccine but now we have more and broader access to it,” Newell said. “We didn’t have the ability to vaccinate as many people but the government made it a point to give broader access to it.”
While the flu shot may be able to prevent people from getting the flu, it is not a cure all for everything that ails a person.
“The other thing that people don’t understand is the term flu,” Newell said. “A lot of the times we use the term flu to describe gastrointestinal things that are not the actual flu.”