CHICAGO (CBS) — With flu season underway, Cook County health officials want people to get their vaccines now.
“The single best way to protect yourself against the flu is to get vaccinated,” said Dr. David Schwartz, chair of infectious disease. “If you don’t do it for yourself, consider those children and elderly individuals in your life who are more at-risk for becoming critically ill if you pass the virus on to them. The flu shot is important for their health.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 80,000 people died during last year’s flu season. While every flu season is different, infection can affect people differently and even a healthy person can get sick from the flu and spread it to others.
The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months get a flu shot. The nasal flu vaccine (LAIV) is also an option.
The Illinois Department of Central Management Services website has a list of locations offering free flu vaccines including locations throughout Chicago and Cook County.
A Florida child died due to flu-related illness during the week ending October 6, according to the state’s Department of Health. The child, the first to die in the state, had not received a flu vaccination.
Health officials in Florida identified the lethal strain as influenza B, which is less common and generally less severe than Influenza A, though both strains infect humans.
The child, who was healthy before getting sick with the flu, had no known health conditions, according to the department of health. Additional information, including the child’s age, was withheld to protect the family’s privacy.
Florida was not alone in reporting a flu death so early in the season. A middle-aged woman living in central Kentucky also died of flu-related illness during the second week of October, according to Beth Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
CNN contributed to this story.