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Ask Chicagoist: Where Can I Get a Flu Shot?

By Thales Exoo in Miscellaneous on Dec 8, 2006 6:00PM

Seems like everyone in my office is getting sick. Where can I go to get a flu shot? Or is it past the point where they are still being offered?

2006_11_askflu.jpgAh yes. Flu season. There's nothing like overhearing the perpetual sneezing, coughing and hacking of our co-workers, knowing full well that our own illness is imminent, what with sickness in offices spreading quicker than juicy rumors. Plus, with more and more workers dragging themselves into the office while they are sick, preferring to save their sick days for when they are not actually sick, there's really nowhere to run, unless you work in a hermetically sealed bubble.

November is traditionally the month where the flu shot is heavily promoted, because it's right before the cold of winter sets in, when influenza starts spreading all over the continent. However, it's really never too late to get one, especially considering that the main crux of flu season doesn't traditionally happen until February, and the shot takes only about 10 days to start protecting you. If you missed or threw away the memo circulating around your office about flu shots in Conference Room B, or you didn't make it to any of the other clinics prevalent in the city in November, there is still time and opportunity to get a flu shot.

The American Lung Association sponsors FluClinicLocator, where you can enter in your zip code and find flu clinics near you. Unfortunately, since flu shot season really is over, there's only one more clinic listed so far for Chicago — this Sunday at St. Mark International Christian Church (832 N. Leclaire Ave.), from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

But don't dispair! If you miss this final clinic there's still time to get vaccinated. We got vaccinated this year during a regular visit to our doctor's office, so make an appointment if you want the vaccine and you have a doctor.

You can also drop in to any urgent care facility for a vaccination whenever they're open. Specifically, Peterson Urgent Care (2300 W. Peterson Ave.) and Physician's Immediate Care (600 W. Adams St. or 4211 W. Cicero Ave.) all have flu vaccine on hand. You can also call Advocate Health Care's flu shot hotline (800-995-4267) to make an appointment for a $25 shot.

Apparently flu shots are also being given over at O'Hare for $35. There are four flu shot kiosks set up in Terminals 1, 2, and 3, and around 1500 people are getting vaccinated every day at the clinics while waiting on flights.

The thing is, with all the talk for the last couple of years about an inadequate supply of flu vaccine, and news photos of elderly people waiting in line for the vaccination like it's a rock show, this year there's an excess of the vaccine. Unused flu vaccine at the end of the season (they're guessing millions of vaccines will be discarded) means there's a good chance that manufacturers won't make enough vaccine again next year (which will cause them to make too much the following year, which will ...), and people who really need the shot won't be able to get one. We're not sure why they just can't try to judge production a little better. Either way, as a result, the CDC has really been pushing the vaccine this year (questions about mercury levels in the vaccinations aside) in the hopes more people get one. Last week was apparently "National Influenza Vaccination Week."

Anyone who wants to reduce their risk of getting the flu (and remember colds aren't the flu, so you won't be immune from that pervasive cold-weather fiend) can get vaccinated, assuming you're not allergic to eggs, haven't had a bad reaction in the past, don't have a fever and aren't an infant under 6 months old. But in particular, some groups of people really should strongly consider getting vaccinated, including:

  1. Children from 6 months to 5 years old
  2. Pregnant women
  3. People 50 years of age and older
  4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
  5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
  6. Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
  7. Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (since these children are too young to be vaccinated)
  8. Health care workers

What do you think? Does the flu shot really work, or is it a scam?

Image via mccord.

Got a fever of 103? Need some advice? Email ask(at)chicagoist(dot)com.