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State public health officials are again encouraging residents to get a flu shot before getting together with family and friends for the holidays. 

Health officials are using National Influenza Vaccination Week to remind people that it's not too late to get a shot.

“Even healthy people can get the flu,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah said. “And while healthy people may not suffer serious illness from the flu, they can pass the virus to babies too young to be vaccinated, people who have chronic illnesses, and others who may develop serious health problems like pneumonia. Before you get together with grandkids and grandparents for the holidays, make sure you not only protect yourself from the flu, but your loved ones as well.”

Flu season tends to peak between December and February, although activity can last as late as May, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

While some people have already gotten a flu shot this year, Shah said not enough have.

"What we really hope for is that in any given year, in any given community or population, everyone who can get the flu shot, should be getting it," he said. 

The flu isn't just the sniffles and a cough. The flu is a serious illness.

"Nearly 50 million people got the flu last year and nearly 80,000 of those people died," Shah said.

Flu symptoms can include fever or fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache, tiredness. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though these symptoms are more common in children.

Getting a flu shot can reduce doctor visits and prevent flu-related hospitalizations. For those who get the shot, but still get the flu, the illness is usually milder, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

To find a location to get a flu shot, ask a local health care provider or the local health department. State officials also suggest using the online Vaccine Finder.

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