The Illinois Department of Public Health says vaccination is an excellent defense against two prominent diseases.
The first is Hepatitis A. This is a highly contagious liver disease that can cause symptoms such as fatigue, stomach pain, and jaundice. Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said the disease is widespread, and there’s been an outbreak in Illinois since September 2018.
“It has actually been nationwide, over 30 states, But in Illinois specifically, we’ve had 177 related cases, and one death associated with that," she said.
That’s still much lower than in neighboring states. Kentucky has had nearly 5,ooo recent cases.
Health departments around Illinois have a supply of the vaccine, and can be used if it can’t be obtained via private coverage. Ezike said proper hand hygiene is also effective, since the disease often spreads through contaminated food or water.
Ezike said it's also important to get an influenza vaccine. She noted it’s particularly important when more tests for the disease are coming back positive.
"December, January and February are our most active months in terms of flu-like illnesses," she said.
Ezike says everybody should get the vaccine. But she says it’s especially important for those in certain high risk groups. These include the homeless, people who have been incarcerated, and drug users.