Influenza Vaccination Season BeginsContact: James McCurtis Jr. (517) 241-2112Agency: Community Health
September 8, 2010
LANSING - The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is gearing up for the 2010-2011 influenza season by making special efforts to educate the public about the new universal flu recommendations. The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year and, for the first time this flu season, it is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older receive a seasonal flu vaccine.
While flu is unpredictable, it's likely that 2009 H1N1 viruses and regular seasonal viruses will cause illness in the United States this flu season. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season.
"Flu season is on its way and we encourage all Michigan residents over 6 months of age to get vaccinated," said Dr. Greg Holzman, chief medical executive for MDCH. "The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. Everyone 6 months of age and older - including healthy people - need to get vaccinated against influenza this year and every year."
MDCH also encourages new parents, health care professionals, and those who have contact with people age 65 and older to get vaccinated to help protect these high-risk individuals.
Children in need of a second dose of flu vaccine must be fully protected also because flu spreads easily in classroom settings, and school-aged children often spread influenza to their siblings and family members. Parents are urged to talk to their doctor or health care provider to see if their child needs two doses of flu vaccine this flu season.
People should receive a flu vaccine as soon as the vaccine is available in provider offices, pharmacies, local health departments, and other vaccination locations. Flu vaccinations are effective throughout the entire flu season, which can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Vaccine manufacturers expect shipments to be made on-time this year. A record number of doses of flu vaccine - 160 million - are expected to be produced this flu season and many doses have been shipped out already.
There are two types of flu vaccines:
- The "flu shot"-an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle. The seasonal flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women.
- The nasal-spray flu vaccine -a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for "Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine"). LAIV is approved for use in healthy people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.
If parents are concerned because their children do not have health insurance or are only partly insured, they can ask their doctor or local health department about how to get publicly purchased vaccines through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. The VFC program provides vaccines to eligible children and adolescents. Doctors and clinics administer vaccines to children who qualify and the government pays for the immunization. Children from birth through 18 years of age can receive the VFC benefit if they are: 1) on Medicaid; 2) eligible for Medicaid; 3) American Indian or Alaskan Native; 4) are under-insured or do not have health insurance.