As Flu Season Progresses, Michigan Residents Urged to Get Vaccinated, Take Precautions

Contact: Jennifer Smith 517-241-2112

For Immediate Release: January 8, 2015

LANSING, Mich. – As flu activity remains widespread throughout the state, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is reminding residents to protect themselves and their loved ones against the virus by getting vaccinated and taking simple, everyday preventative measures.

“Each flu season is unpredictable and can last until early spring, so it is not too late to benefit from the protection vaccines provide,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive of the MDCH. “We must remain vigilant against the virus by getting vaccinated and being attentive to our health. Flu vaccine that provides even partial protection remains the most important step to prevent flu and its complications.”

The flu can be serious, and complications are usually more common in young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions. So far this flu season, influenza A (H3N2) is the predominant circulating virus in Michigan and nationally. Flu seasons where H3N2 predominates are typically associated with higher morbidity and mortality, especially in the very young and the elderly. This is why MDCH urges everyone 6 months and older to protect themselves against the flu by getting vaccinated and taking everyday precautions.

The 2014-15 flu season began relatively early with high flu activity in December, and remains at widespread levels throughout Michigan and across nearly all of the United States. Nationally, more than two-thirds of H3N2 viruses have drifted from the vaccine strain. Because of this, vaccine effectiveness may be reduced but flu vaccine is still recommended as the primary form of protection. Antiviral medications are a second line of defense to treat flu illness for severely ill persons and those at high risk of developing complications.

Currently, vaccination coverage for children 6 months through 4 years old is much lower than last year at the same time. Young children are particularly vulnerable and at a higher risk for serious complications. Parents should not wait to have their children vaccinated.   In addition to getting vaccinated, MDCH is urging residents to fight against the spread of flu by:

  • Staying home from work when sick
  • Keeping sick children home from school
  • Washing hands often
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces

For more information about influenza and flu activity in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/flu.

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