MDHHS urges residents to get vaccinated against influenza

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 30, 2019

CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is encouraging all residents to protect themselves against influenza and its potentially life-threatening consequences by getting vaccinated. Although flu activity is only being seen sporadically across the state, the flu season is unpredictable and it’s important to get vaccinated before influenza activity becomes widespread in our communities.

“Residents should receive their flu vaccine today to have optimal protection throughout the flu season,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “The flu vaccine is the most important tool available to prevent yourself and your families from getting the flu. It can also reduce the severity of symptoms if you do get sick.”

Influenza is not the “stomach flu” and not just a “bad cold.” It is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can lead to extreme sickness and even death. The 2018-2019 flu season saw an estimated 647,000 hospitalizations and up to 61,000 deaths resulted from influenza infections nationwide. In Michigan, four children died from flu-related complications. However, only 46.1 percent of Michiganders reported receiving a flu vaccine last season, below the national rate of 49.2 percent.

Everyone six months of age and older should receive a flu vaccine every year. Getting your flu vaccine protects not only yourself but those around you who may have serious complications if they get the flu. Typically, those most severely affected are children younger than 5 years old, people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and individuals over the age of 65. Flu vaccination during pregnancy protects infants for the first several months of their lives and lowers their risk of flu-related hospitalization by 72 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) promotes the “Take Three Actions” approach to prevent the spread of influenza.

  • First, take time to get yourself and your family vaccinated.
  • Second, take everyday preventive actions such as covering your cough, washing your hands and avoiding close contact with those who are sick to stop the spread of germs.
  • Third, take flu antiviral medications if prescribed by your doctor.

Although flu activity in Michigan is still at low levels, high levels of activity have been observed in other states. Nationally, two children have died due to influenza complications already this flu season. It takes up to two weeks after the vaccine is administered before the body builds up enough immunity to prevent the flu, so Michigan residents should get vaccinated now to protect themselves before flu activity increases in Michigan. The flu shot is made with inactivated or killed viruses and cannot give you influenza.

There is currently ample supply of flu vaccine available at many locations throughout Michigan, including doctors’ offices, pharmacies and local health departments. To find a location near you, visit Vaccinefinder.org. For more information on influenza vaccines and flu activity throughout Michigan, go to Michigan.gov/flu.  

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