LANSING, MI – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) along with the Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA) and Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS), urge all Michigan residents to protect themselves against influenza (flu) and its potentially life-threatening consequences by getting vaccinated.
The MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories has already confirmed the first cases of influenza in the state for the 2015-2016 flu season.
“Right now is the perfect time to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your family against the flu this season,” said Eden Wells, M.D., Chief Medical Executive with the MDHHS. “The flu is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness; it’s not something to be taken lightly. In our communities and as health care professionals, it’s important we all encourage our friends and family to remember to get their flu vaccine every year.”
The first official week of the 2015-2016 flu season was October 4-10, and during that week the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories confirmed the first cases of influenza in Michigan. One case was confirmed as an influenza A (H1N1) virus, and three cases were confirmed as influenza A(H3N2) viruses. All of the cases were adults.
“One of the safest, simplest things we can do to stay healthy this winter is to get our flu shot,” said MSMS President Rose M. Ramirez, MD. “It’s just as important that we get our shots to help protect infants and others with serious medical conditions who cannot get vaccinated themselves.”
Flu is a contagious respiratory virus that often causes fever, sore throat, cough, body aches, and fatigue. People already infected with flu can spread the virus to others even before they feel sick. Flu vaccination is the single best way to prevent getting the flu and its complications. The flu vaccines available in the 2015-2016 flu season were changed to include the drifted flu virus strain that widely circulated last year.
“The health of our communities depends on a strong flu vaccine program. It has never been easier to get a vaccine and the cases of influenza will be minimal if we have a strong response,” said Dr. Anthony F. Ognjan, DO, FACP, of the MOA.
Everyone six months of age and older should receive a flu vaccine every flu season. It is especially important that children, adults aged 65 years and older, persons with chronic health conditions, and pregnant women get vaccinated against flu. Flu vaccination for pregnant women does not just protect the mother, it also protects her unborn baby.
Unfortunately, three influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported in Michigan during the 2014-2015 flu season. What is especially concerning is that flu vaccination coverage in Michigan’s 5-12 year-olds dropped considerably in the 2014-2015 flu season, down to 52 percent. And according to Michigan Care Improvement Registry data, only 9 percent of Michigan children aged 6 months to 8 years who needed two doses of flu vaccine last season received both doses.
With influenza already confirmed in Michigan this season, there is no way to know when flu activity will be widespread in our community. That is why MDHHS, MOA, and MSMS are urging Michigan residents to get vaccinated against the flu now before they are exposed to a flu virus. It takes about two weeks to be fully protected after vaccination. There are multiple types of flu vaccine available this season, and more vaccines will be manufactured than ever before. Don’t wait – talk to your healthcare provider today about which flu vaccine is the best one for you.