"Health expo postponed due to illness" read an above-the-fold headline in Saturday's News Tribune.
The irony — thick as grandma's castor oil-based cough remedy — didn't escape us.
But the postponing of the city's inaugural community Wellness Expo wasn't a joke. With health data showing a high number of area residents getting sick, organizers decided to reschedule the event from this past weekend to Feb. 24.
Hopefully by then, our city will be well enough to host a wellness expo.
In the meantime, it's still not too late to get your seasonal flu shot. The ideal time would have been earlier in the season, but there's still time for the shot and the two-week delay your body needs to build up antibodies to protect you.
Don't avoid flu shots because of reports they are less effective this year than typical.
WGN in Chicago reported the flu vaccine protects against three to four strains. One of the most common is H3N2. Experts believe this year's vaccine is 32-35 percent effective against H3N2, with slightly higher effectiveness against the other strains. Typically experts see a 50-70 percent effectiveness rate. But even if the vaccine doesn't work perfectly, it diminishes the severity of illness and helps slow the spread of disease.
Cole County health officials confirmed 433 cases of Influenza A and 39 cases of Influenza B in the county through the last week of December. At the same time last year, the county had 62 cases of Influenza A and four cases of Influenza B.
People should remember the flu shot has no effect on what many of us call the "flu" or "stomach flu," that isn't influenza — but often has similar symptoms.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. Symptoms often include fever, cough, chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.
While a flu shot is your first line of defense, you greatly can diminish these highly unpleasant — and sometimes deadly — symptoms through a few simple actions: wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough, and stay home if you're sick.