MDCH Announces Flu Vaccination Challenge Winners, Reminds Residents to Immunize

Contact: Jennifer Smith 517-241-2112

For Immediate Release: December 8, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – This year, in an effort to raise vaccination rates among young adults, Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) partnered with 14 colleges and universities in the first annual Flu Vaccination Challenge to see which school could get the highest flu vaccination rate on their campus. Today, as part of the National Influenza Vaccination Week, MDCH announced that Hope College, Wayne State University, and Michigan State University are the winners of the 2014-2015 Flu Vaccination Challenge.

“Vaccination is the single best way to prevent against getting the flu,” said Nick Lyon, director of the MDCH. “I congratulate the winners of this year’s Flu Vaccination Challenge, and applaud all of the colleges and universities that partnered with us to raise awareness and vaccination rates on their campuses.”

The announcement comes as influenza activity is increasing in the state, especially in Michigan’s Southeast region. MDCH is urging residents not to wait to get their flu vaccine this year.

“Vaccine-preventable diseases like the flu are a very real threat in our communities,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive with the MDCH. “It takes about two weeks after vaccination to be protected against the flu, and I encourage all residents to get vaccinated now so they are protected before flu becomes widespread in Michigan.”

The flu can be serious, and complications are usually more common in young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions. Last flu season, influenza particularly affected healthy young and middle-aged adults. This is why MDCH urges everyone age 6 months and older, regardless of health status, to protect themselves against the flu.

Each flu season is unpredictable. The 2013-14 season began relatively early, was moderately severe, and was predominantly an H1N1 season. So far in 2014-15, flu activity is increasing and we are primarily seeing H3N2 along with some influenza B viruses. Nationally, about half of H3N2 viruses characterized have drifted and do not match the vaccine strain. Because of this, there may be decreased vaccine effectiveness observed this flu season. However, the vaccine can provide some protection against drifted viruses, and is still strongly recommended.

Last flu season, 42.9 percent of Michigan residents were vaccinated against the flu, which remains below the national coverage of 46.2 percent. Data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry show only 10.1 percent of adults age 18-24 were vaccinated for flu in 2013-14. The Flu Vaccination Challenge is an effort to increase immunization rates among young adults.

MDCH thanks all of the schools that joined the challenge to protect their students against the flu. The following colleges and universities participated in the Flu Vaccination Challenge: Albion College, Aquinas College, Calvin College, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Kalamazoo College, Michigan State University, Northwestern Michigan College, Oakland University, Southwestern Michigan College, University of Michigan, and Wayne State University.

The winners were named by school size category: Hope College (less than 10,000 undergraduate students), Wayne State University (10,000-25,000 undergraduate students), and Michigan State University (more than 25,000 undergraduate students). For more information about the Flu Vaccination Challenge, visit http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,4612,7-132-2940_2955_22779-332647--,00.html.

December 7-13 is National Influenza Vaccination Week, as proclaimed by the governor, and serves as a reminder of how important it is to continue flu vaccination throughout the season. There are multiple options of flu vaccine available. To find a flu vaccine location near you, visit http://flushot.healthmap.org/. For more general information about flu in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/flu.

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