MDCH, MOA, and MSMS Urge Residents to Vaccinate Against Influenza;State Confirms First Influenza Cases of 2014 – 2015 Flu Season

Contact: Jennifer Smith 517-241-2112

For Immediate Release: October 16, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) along with the Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA) and Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS), are urging all Michigan residents to protect themselves against influenza (flu) and its potentially life-threatening consequences by getting vaccinated. The MDCH Bureau of Laboratories has recently confirmed three cases of influenza, the first identified by the state laboratory for the 2014-2015 Michigan flu season. 

“Working together with statewide professional groups such as the Michigan State Medical Society and Michigan Osteopathic Association, we can partner to promote greater levels of protection against influenza in our communities.” said Matthew Davis, M.D., Chief Medical Executive with the MDCH. “Vaccine-preventable diseases like the flu are a very real threat, and we can all do more to provide education, encouragement and support around the importance of timely vaccinations for our patients, friends and loved ones.”

MDCH has confirmed the first cases of influenza identified by the state laboratory during the 2014-2015 flu season. One case has been confirmed as an influenza A(H1N1) 2009 virus, one as an influenza A(H3N2) virus, and one as an influenza B virus. All are adults and two were hospitalized. 

"The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year,” said Kenneth Elmassian, D.O., the Immediate Past President of the Michigan State Medical Society.  “Flu season is already in full swing and every adult, as well as all children six months of age and older should receive their annual flu shot.”

In Michigan, there were three influenza-associated pediatric deaths during the 2013-2014 influenza season, which was a decrease from the seven reported deaths during 2012-2013. However, flu vaccination rates remain low, especially among young adults. During the 2013-2014 season, only 10.1 percent of individuals 18-24 years of age were vaccinated against the flu.

"Flu is an unpredictable respiratory illness and certain individuals are more at risk. The best way to prevent illness is to get the flu vaccine early,” said Myral Robbins, D.O., FAAFP, FACOFP, President of the MOA. “There is still time to get vaccinated for this year's flu season. Protect yourself, your loved ones and all those with whom you come in contact with little or low risk to you."

The flu is a contagious and sometimes life-threatening respiratory virus, especially for infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions. Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine each year; vaccination is the first and most important step to protect against the flu.

It is recommended that all residents over six months of age receive the flu vaccination as soon as the vaccine is available to receive the most protection against the virus all season long. However, if you miss getting your vaccine in the fall, remember it is not too late to protect yourself against the virus during the rest of the flu season, which often lasts late into the spring.

MDCH, MOA, and MSMS are urging Michigan families to talk to their health care provider today about the vaccines they need for themselves and their families. Michigan health care providers are encouraged to strongly recommend vaccines to patients of all ages and to never miss a chance to vaccinate.

For more information about vaccinations in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/immunize and www.michigan.gov/flu. To find a vaccine near you, visit http://vaccine.healthmap.org/.

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