FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 6, 2021
MDHHS Contact: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112
DIFS Contact: Laura Hall, 517-290-3779
LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) are reminding Michiganders to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible to protect themselves and their communities from flu especially while continuing to battle COVID-19. Flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same time.
Flu activity during the 2020-2021 season was very low, likely because of COVID-19 prevention measures - and it's important to get vaccinated for the flu every year. As we celebrate this holiday season, health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are particularly concerned about the impact reduced immunity could have on people who are already at higher risk of developing serious flu complications, including those with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, heart disease and diabetes. Getting the flu vaccine reduces the risk of serious flu complications.
"Everyone aged 6 months and up is recommended to receive a flu vaccine and getting it does make a difference - doing your part helps keep your friends, family and neighbors safe," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. "There is an ample supply of flu vaccine available in many convenient locations from primary care providers to local pharmacies. We know these vaccines are safe and they protect vulnerable Michiganders."
While it is ideal to get a flu vaccine before flu starts spreading in your community, getting vaccinated later is still beneficial during most seasons. Flu most commonly peaks in February and significant activity can continue into May, so there is still time to get vaccinated if you haven't already. This National Influenza Vaccination Week, which is observed Dec. 5-11, go to your doctor or local pharmacy to get your flu vaccine, encourage your loved ones to get their flu vaccine, and learn more about the benefits of getting vaccinated against flu.
DIFS also reminds Michiganders that flu shots are an essential health benefit under the Affordable Care Act and are covered with no out-of-pocket costs by most health plans in Michigan. Consumers with questions about their coverage should contact their insurance company, and if they cannot get the information they need or have additional questions, contact DIFS for assistance 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 877-999-6442 or Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance.
"Annual flu shots are a crucial part of protecting not only your health but the health of those around you, and DIFS is dedicated to ensuring that cost and coverage are not obstacles to Michiganders getting vaccinated," said DIFS Director Anita Fox. "Access to health insurance and health care services like vaccinations are vital to our state's health, and our consumer service representatives are ready to respond to insurance coverage questions and concerns."
An increase of influenza A (H3N2) viruses has been detected in recent weeks, as well as influenza outbreaks in colleges and universities in several states. Influenza vaccination coverage is still low and there is still time this season to benefit from getting an annual influenza vaccine.
Last flu season, approximately 3.5 million people in Michigan received a flu vaccine as reported to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry. The state has set a goal of vaccinating a total of 4 million Michiganders for the 2021-2022 flu season.
Flu viruses are constantly changing, and multiple flu viruses can circulate at the same time during any given flu season. Because of this, flu vaccines are reviewed each year and updated as needed - in fact, two of the components included in this year's vaccine were updated from last year to better match flu viruses that are expected to spread in the U.S. this season.
Flu vaccines are widely available now at local health departments, physician offices and pharmacies around the state. Find a location near you using the Vaccine Finder. Visit Michigan.gov/flu for more information or visit IVaccinate.org to find answers to your vaccine questions.