09:18 AM

Flu Season at its Peak in Illinois

OSF takes precautions at medical centers

Despite a less than harsh winter for Illinois, no one should be lulled into a false sense of safety when it comes to flu. And the season remains a concern for health officials. After several weeks categorizing the virus as sporadic or localized, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recently listed it as “widespread.”

The biggest increase in the number of cases, according to IDPH, is in southern Illinois, while a decrease is being reported in the northern region of the state and Cook County. In between, the flu numbers have remained steady.

For the protection of patients and visitors, all OSF medical centers have instituted precautions. Masking and visitor restrictions are in place at OSF Saint Francis (Peoria), OSF Saint Anthony (Rockford) OSF St. Mary (Galesburg), OSF Saint Luke (Kewanee), OSF Holy Family (Monmouth), OSF Saint Elizabeth (Ottawa), OSF St. Joseph (Bloomington), OSF Saint James – John W. Albrecht (Pontiac), OSF Saint Paul (Mendota) and OSF St. Francis (Escanaba, MI).

These restrictions may change periodically as flu season progresses. We encourage patients and visitors to visit the OSF HealthCare website for updates.

Meantime, if you have not yet received a flu shot, it is strongly recommended that you do. “The vaccine is particularly important for children younger than 2 years, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, residents of nursing homes, people with asthma or chronic lung disease,” says Martine Schultheis, MD, Family Medicine, OSF Medical Group.

Finally, while the vaccines have live viruses in them, the flu shot cannot give you the flu.

And now with the flu virus considered to be widespread by Illinois health officials, Dr. Schultheis urges that you do not delay. “It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop and provide protection.”