CHICAGO, Dec 30, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Illinois is joining Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and California in relaxing restrictions on who qualifies to get a flu shot.
Beginning Wednesday, many local and county health departments will begin inoculating anyone age 50 and over who wants a flu shot.
The change follows a recommendation by the national Center for Disease Control and Prevention that the nationwide influenza vaccination program be expanded beyond high-risk groups -- the elderly, chronically ill, pregnant women, children 6 months to 23 months and healthcare providers.
Michigan, Utah and Wyoming lifted all restrictions on vaccinations as shortages of vaccine resulting from contamination of nearly half of the nation's flu vaccine supply in October eased. Rationing left more vaccine than expected available.
The number of Illinois residents eligible to receive a shot will nearly double to 8.3 million, the Chicago Tribune said.
Flu season typically peaks after the holidays and can stretch into April.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International.