News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
Visit us at www.nwhealth.org


Stay Healthy Over the Holidays by Getting Your Flu Vaccine

Public health officials want to remind all citizens that the first and most important step in protecting against the flu is to get a flu vaccination each season. Starting with the 2010-11 influenza season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated against influenza.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan still has flu vaccine available and there is still time to seek vaccination before the holidays. Flu season typically peaks in Michigan in late January through February. Flu often begins spreading when people gather and travel over the holidays. Surveillance data indicate that the percentage of viruses testing positive for influenza nationally began to increase in November 2010; last week the Michigan Bureau of Laboratories confirmed new flu cases in Michigan residents. This increase in the number of specimens testing positive for influenza is an early signal that flu activity is picking up.

"We continue to encourage all northern Michigan citizens to get vaccinated throughout the entire flu season--it is the single best way to prevent the flu," said Joshua Meyerson, MD, Medical Director for the Health Department.

The CDC conducted a Rapid Flu Survey (RFS) nationally and in 20 areas throughout the United States to provide estimates of how many people have received a flu vaccination by approximately November 7; Washtenaw County in Michigan was one of the 20 areas.  Some of the results of the study:

Some people can be infected with the flu virus, but have no symptoms.  During this time, those people may still spread the virus to others.

Babies younger than 6 months are too young to get the flu vaccine, but they are at higher risk for complications and death from flu. Because of this, it is important that family members and other people that care for young infants get vaccinated to help ensure that they don't transmit the infection to them.

Most people who get the flu will have mild illness, will not need medical care, and will recover in less than two weeks. Some people, however, are more likely to get flu complications that result in being hospitalized and occasionally result in death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications. The flu can also make chronic health problems worse, like asthma and heart failure. Compared with other infections, such as the common cold, influenza is more likely to cause severe illness and life-threatening complications.  Studies going back 30 years show that seasonal flu-related deaths have ranged from about 3,000 people to 49,000 people.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. It is not too late to get your flu vaccine. Protect yourself, your family, and your community. Get vaccinated every year, and encourage your family members to do the same! For more information on influenza, visit www.michigan.gov/flu.


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