SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS/AP) — 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 said Friday that 476 people have been admitted to hospital intensive care units with the flu this season and 50 have died.

Public health officials continue to encourage people to get vaccinated.

One bright spot: Chicago’s flu hospitalizations continued a two-week decline.

Last week there were nine patients in hospital intensive care units with the flu, a decrease from 31 the previous week.

Dr. Julie Morita of the Chicago Department of Public Health says the demand for vaccine remains high, but it’s not overwhelming. She says supplies are good.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker talked with a pharmacist to get his take on the best medications to fight the flu. Marc Gaines says it’s best to buy products tailored to your specific symptoms, rather than buying an all-in-one product.

For fevers under 101, he recommends acetaminophen or Tylenol. Over 101: Ibuprofen or Motrin.

For a cough: if it’s dry, Gaines likes cough suppressants like Delsym or a store brand. For cough with phlegm he recommends Mucinex or the generic “mucus relief.”

An antihistamine to dry the membranes helps for runny noses, he says. Claritin or Allegra top his list, unless you like sprays. Then he recommends Afrin or the generic Anefrin.

To treat your Sore throat, you’re better off with sprays like Chloraseptic, rather than throat lozenges.

Gaines is not a big fan of high-dosage Vitamin C tablets. He says the best way to get vitamin C is to eat oranges, strawberries, kiwi or other foods with vitamin C.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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