Coverage of the stalemate in Congress that forced the U.S. government to a standstill

Government Shutdown Stalls Flu Data in Illinois

Flu seasons are unpredictable, experts say, and data is needed to treat the virus

By Nesita Kwan
|  Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013  |  Updated 4:52 PM CDT
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Six-month-old Brandon Ruiz got his first flu shot ever Tuesday at Loyola University Medical Center.

His mom, Maricela, said it's a yearly ritual for her whole family, one that doctors certainly condone.

What happens to the flu data after those vaccines is unclear at this point.

Since the government shutdown began, just about every bit of flu data collected in any state, including Illinois, has gathered dust at the Centers for Disease Control, the agency responsible for monitoring the flu season.

"Not having the data does not help us get advice from the federal authorities to the regional authorities," pediatric infectious disease specialist Andrew Bonwit said.

Bonwit said the good news is the flu season doesn't seem to have started yet, at least in the Chicago area. Information about how to treat it, though, is affected with each passing day.

"Knowing what is happening helps people researching and developing vaccines," he said.

Flu seasons are unpredictable, experts say, and data is needed to encourage people to get flu shots.

For the flu experts, it's a waiting game. For little Brandon, it's so much simpler -- just one more vaccination he can put behind him.

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