Nurses from Advocate Sherman Hospital descended on the State Capitol in Springfield last week to engage legislators on issues affecting health care and the nursing profession. More than 80 direct care nurses from across the Advocate system - including 6 from Advocate Sherman Hospital- met with dozens of state legislators, including Senate President John Cullerton, Senator Cristina Castro, Senator Karen McConnaughay, Rep. Steven Andersson, Rep. Fred Crespo, Rep. Mike Fortner, Rep. Anna Moeller, Rep. Allen Skillicorn, and Rep. Keith Wheeler, as part of Advocate's annual Nurse Advocacy Day.

Participating nurses rallied support to maintain Medicaid funding levels, raise the legal age of purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21, and pass the Nurse Licensure Compact-legislation that would allow nurses licensed in Illinois to practice in other compact states, including Wisconsin.


One thing she said she noticed this year: Some people who got flu shots still got sick, but they got less sick than people who skipped the shots. That backs up published studies.

This year we saw a lot of healthy children and adults lose their lives to flu or be hospitalized for flu, said Serese Marotta, chief operating officer of Families Fighting Flu, a non-profit group that promotes flu vaccination and receives some funding from vaccine makers. I hope that people dont forget about that. I hope that when it comes time to get vaccinated for 2018-2019, they remember how severe this flu season was.

Marotta, who lives in Syracuse, N.Y., lost her own 5-year-old son, Joseph, to flu in 2009.

CDC recommends annual flu vaccines for everyone older than 6 months, generally starting in September. Vaccination rates have slowly risen in recent years, reaching 43% for adults and 59% for children in 2016-17. This years numbers are not yet public.

Flu vaccines typically prevent 40% to 60% of flu cases. This years versions were just 36% effective overall, but 59% effective in children, according to preliminary data. The dominant flu strain this year, a type called H3N2, is known as a tough vaccine target.

This harsh flu season has increased interest in a universal flu vaccine that would work against multiple strains for multiple years. On Friday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Lucy and Larry Page announced a million donation to accelerate those efforts.

In the meantime, an imperfect vaccine doesnt mean you dont get the flu vaccine, said Rade Vukmir, a professor of emergency medicine at Temple University and a spokesman for the emergency medicine group.

And the tail end of flu season does not mean you stop watching out for germs that can make you sick, he added. They are out there year-round, he said, so keep washing your hands.


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