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Flu Preparedness

How Chicago is gearing up for the next season

Believe it or not, it isn’t too early to start gearing up for the next flu season. Marielle Fricchione, MD, who is the medical director for immunizations at the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) gives you the low down on what to expect next season and how to prepare now.

Q: What is CDPH anticipating for the next flu season?

A: First of all it’s important to note that we are still dealing with this year’s flu season. It started late this year and we are still seeing some cases. The strains that we have seen this year, mostly H1N1, were well matched to our flu vaccine so we have seen less influenza-related illness and fewer deaths.

And this just goes to illustrate that every flu season is different. There are numerous factors that contribute to this including the type of flu strains circulating and whether the vaccine offered that year matches those flu strains. Next season, we will again be offering a flu vaccine that protects against four strains of Influenza virus. This quadrivalent vaccine will protect against two Influenza A viruses (including H1N1) and two Influenza B viruses.

Q: How CDPH is preparing for the next season?

A: We plan well in advance to make sure that flu vaccine is available to everyone citywide. This includes holding flu vaccine walk-in clinics from September through December. We will also continue to partner with Walgreens and Aldermen across the city to make flu vaccine available to any resident who does not receive it from their health care provider. Last year we served all of Chicago’s 50 Wards, a total 79 clinics including five Family Flu Days at various locations citywide. We will also continue to assess and improve the tracking of inpatient and outpatient flu data.

CDPH will continue to provide anti-viral treatment and infection control advice to hospitals and outpatient centers that request our assistance. Finally, we are constantly updating our contingency plans to deal with more severe national or international flu outbreaks.

Q: What advice can CDPH give docs regarding their patients?

A: Flu shots are still the most effective way to prevent the flu and we encourage people to get their flu shot every year, not only to protect themselves, but also to protect their loved-ones and those around them who are more vulnerable to the flu. This includes young children, pregnant women, anyone over age 65 and those with chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes. You should also encourage your patients to practice good hand, cough and sneeze hygiene to reduce the chance of transmitting the flu.

As a physician, I see many healthy children every year who need to be hospitalized or even intubated because they got the flu. Unfortunately, most of these children did not receive a flu vaccine. If a patient does contract the flu, there are oral anti-viral medications (Tamiflu) available and recommended to shorten the course and severity of illness.

Q: What resources does CDPH offer for docs?

A: Every week during flu season we publish a Chicago Flu Update at so healthcare providers can keep up to date on trends of influenza illness in Chicago. National weekly statistics can be found on the CDC website at CDPH worked with the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council (MCHC) to publish a very useful healthcare guide for flu that can be found on their site at Doctors can go to our website at for other resources specific to each flu season as well.

CDPH plans to host webinars through EverThrive, an immunization coalition. For further information about preparing for the flu season, physicians and other health care providers should feel free to contact the immunization program at 312-746-5382.

Flu: Nothing to Sneeze at

Ask Dr. Anthony Fauci what one of his biggest concerns is, and he’ll answer, “flu.” As head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Washington, Dr. Fauci says he worries about a deadly mutated form influenza that not only spreads very easily, but also has a great degree of mortality. (Think of the 1918 flu pandemic, for example, that killed between 20 million and 50 million people around the world.)

“That’s the reason why we’re putting so much effort into getting what we call a universal influenza vaccine,” Dr. Fauci said at Smithsonian’s Future is Here Festival on April 23. Today, when there’s an outbreak, “you have to scramble to try to get the right vaccine to match the pandemic,” he said. Developing a universal vaccine that would be good against any influenza is “a truly important goal.”

Source: Tech Insider

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