An annual flu vaccine is the single best way to protect against getting the flu. With Dec. 8-14 being National Influenza Vaccination Week, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is reminding everyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated against the flu. By getting the vaccine now, families still have time to be protected for holiday gatherings and into 2014 for the duration of the entire flu season
“There is no way to predict what this flu season will hold, how severe it will be, or how long it will last,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the MDCH. “This year’s National Influenza Vaccination Week provides an opportunity to remind people about the importance of an annual flu vaccine. Flu-related illnesses and deaths can be prevented by ensuring our children, families, and communities as a whole are protected each year.”
Flu can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Any flu infection carries a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among healthy children and adults. Last flu season, only 40.8 percent of Michigan’s residents were vaccinated against the flu. This was below the national flu vaccination coverage of 45 percent. Michigan lags behind the U.S. estimates for flu vaccine coverage in every age group and ranks 42nd in the nation.
The 2012-2013 flu season began early, was moderately severe, and lasted longer than recent flu seasons. There were seven influenza-associated pediatric deaths in Michigan last flu season, the highest number since reporting became mandatory in 2004.
Flu is already circulating nationwide and in Michigan. Flu cases have been confirmed across the state and are increasing in the southeast part of Michigan. Three influenza-associated pediatric deaths have already occurred in the U.S. so far this season. The vaccines this year are a good match to the flu viruses circulating at this time.
It takes about two weeks after receiving the flu vaccine to be fully protected against the flu virus. This season there are several different flu vaccine options, including a high-dose flu shot for people age 65 years and older, an egg-free flu vaccine for people with egg allergies, and vaccines that protect against four flu viruses in addition to those that protect against the traditional three flu viruses. The CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over another. Residents should speak with a healthcare provider about which vaccine is best for them.
Flu vaccines are available at more locations than ever before. Michigan residents can get vaccinated at healthcare provider offices, local health departments, or pharmacies. To find a location near you, visit http://flushot.healthmap.org. For more information about flu in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/flu.