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Early Flu Season is Naughty, Not Nice, Says Loyola Infectious Disease Expert

Flu Shot Protects Recipient and Others, Making It a Gift that Also Gives Back

MAYWOOD, Ill - Vomiting, diarrhea and fever – that’s what many are experiencing this holiday season as the seasonal flu grips Chicago. “Loyola documented several cases of the flu before Thanksgiving and we now have confirmed more than 27 cases of patients with the flu, which is early to start and also a high number,” said Jorge Parada, MD, MPH, FACP, FIDSA, medical director of the Infection Prevention and Control program at Loyola University Health System. “If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, put it at the top of your to-do list and get it now."

For the fourth year in a row, Loyola has required that all employees, students, volunteers and even vendors receive the seasonal flu vaccination. “Some jobs require you to wear a helmet and steel-toed boots, hospital staff need vaccinations to protect themselves and others from infectious diseases,” said Parada, who oversees the Loyola employee campaign. “When people are ill they go to the doctor, and when they are really ill they go to the hospital, and as an academic medical center, Loyola cares for the sickest of the sick. Our staff needs self-protection from patients with the flu and we also need to not transmit the flu to vulnerable patients. Requirement of the flu vaccination is a win-win situation."

Flu Fallacies

Parada has heard every excuse associated with the flu vaccination and offers his expertise.

“I got the flu already so I don’t need a flu shot."

Parada: “Typically there are three strains of flu that circulate during the flu season and the flu vaccine protects against all three. So, even if you’ve had the flu, get your flu shot so you do not get the flu a couple of more times."

“It’s too late; the flu is already here."

Parada: “The flu season usually peaks in early February and lasts well into April , so it is not too late to get a flu shot."

“I got a flu shot last year."

Parada: “Just like everyone can catch the flu every season, everyone needs to get a flu shot every year. The immunization lasts for one season and also the formula changes. This year’s flu vaccine is different than that of last year, for example."

“The flu shot makes you sick."

Parada: “It takes about two weeks to build immunity after receiving the flu shot, so if you catch the flu around the time of your flu shot it wasn’t because the vaccine gave it to you. Rather it was because you caught the flu before the vaccine had time to kick in and protect you. I have been an infectious disease specialist for more than 25 years and I have never seen evidence of anyone catching the flu from the flu shot.”

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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Stasia Thompson
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