Oz, host of the popular "Dr. Oz" television show, high-fived kids and hugged adults as they entered the Park Ridge medical center to get free flu shots.
Advocate Medical Group gave out about 500 free flu shots at Nesset Pavilion to members of the community who wanted to protect themselves against the flu who also might have been eager to meet the popular doctor and TV host.
Oz said he was happy to be back in the Chicago area for the "Free Yourself from the Flu" event.
"I spent a lot of time here with 'The Oprah Show,' " Oz said.
Oz said that one of the first people in line to get a flu shot that day told him that he did not qualify for Medicare and would not have been able to afford the flu shot if it weren't for the event.
"We should all have the ability to get a flu shot," he said.
Oz said that last year was not a good year for vaccines, since people were getting sick with a different strain than what was in the flu shots. This year, the vaccine being administered is a four-strain vaccine that protects against more strains of the flu, he said.
"We think this year is a pretty good vaccine year," Oz said.
Oz said because it contains a dead virus, the flu shot doesn't make people sick. If people get sick after getting a flu shot, he said, they got the illness from another source.
Oz said that senior citizens and children are most severely affected by the flu virus. He added that even people with healthy immune systems should get vaccinated to avoid passing the flu on to their loved ones who may be in the more threatened categories.
He said he was a fan of Advocate Medical Group because of their community involvement.
"I especially admire when health care reaches out into the community," he said. "They don't stay in an ivory tower."
The first person in line, Joanna Weiss of New York said she had been to "The Dr. Oz Show" a couple of times and was excited to meet the celebrity. Weiss was visiting family in Des Plaines and said she couldn't pass up the opportunity.
"It's fantastic he's here to advertise it, and it's going to bring more people here," said Weiss, who said she gets the flu shot every year.
"I really appreciate the opportunity," said Gregg Talley, of Chicago, after he got his flu shot.
Talley said the past few years, he has gotten free flu shots at Chicago clinics, but this year, the one offered through his ward already ran out.
Talley said he was happy Advocate Medical Group was offering free flu shots, so he didn't have to pay $30 to receive the vaccine at a drug store. He also said he was impressed the whole process only took 10 minutes.
"This was amazing," said Peggy Brander of Park Ridge.
Brander, another fan of Oz's show, said she also was taken aback at how efficiently the event was run, despite the hundreds who participated.
Dr. Jim Dan, president of Advocate Medical Group, said they are trying to move more toward community-centered and preventative health care and this free flu shot event helped emphasize that concept.
"We're very excited," Dan said of having Oz be a part of the event.
Dan said preventative health care, such as getting a flu shot, helps keep patients out of the hospitals and also lowers health-care costs.
Megan Martin, a clinical supervisor with Advocate Medical Group, said they have seen an increase in the number of people getting the flu shots over the years.
She said that they generally have four flu clinics in the fall at which they take insurance, but this event was unique because the shots were free.
"It's a great opportunity for people who couldn't normally get the flu shot," Martin said.
"I love Dr. Oz," said Kathleen Schreiber, of Edison Park, after receiving her shot. "Who doesn't, right?"