News Release

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


Flu-like illnesses have arrived in the area and are on the rise
Vaccination is best protection against the flu
Appointments still available at upcoming Health Department Community Immunization Clinics


(November 4, 2011) Influenza has arrived in northwest Michigan and is one the rise according to local public health officials. Over the last three weeks, schools reporting “flu-like illness” to the Health Department of Northwest Michigan have steadily increased. Last week, nearly 200 students were absent from school in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties with flu symptoms.

"The single best way to prevent getting the flu is to get vaccinated every year," said Joshua Meyerson, MD, Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. "That's why the Health Department offers Community Immunization Clinics throughout the four-county health district." Meyerson said appointments for flu vaccine, and many other vaccines, are still available at three clinics:

To schedule an appointment at any of the Community Immunization Clinics, call the Health Department of Northwest Michigan at 800-432-4121 during regular business hours. The charge for flu vaccine at Health Department clinics is $25; charges for additional vaccines vary.

"We can bill Medicare, Medicaid, and several private health insurance companies for immunizations," said Pat Fralick, the Health Department's Director of Family & Community Health. Fralick said the Health Department does not turn away anyone age 18 or younger for inability to pay for immunizations required for school. She noted anyone under age 18 must have their parent or guardian accompany them for immunizations.

Fralick highly recommends making appointments at the Community Immunization Clinics. "We do quite a lot of preparation to make sure people can get in and out as quickly as possible," she said. "When we know how many are coming, we can bring plenty of vaccine and have adequate nursing staff. We can also identify any other vaccines individuals may need by checking Michigan Care Improvement Registry in advance and give them at that same appointment."

In addition to annual flu vaccination, other actions to take to avoid the flu are:

Influenza viruses are spread when someone who is sick with the flu coughs, sneezes, or speaks, releasing viruses into the air for other people to breathe. When these viruses enter the nose, throat, or lungs, they begin to multiply, causing disease. The viruses can also be spread when a person touches a surface with flu viruses on it and then touches his/her nose or mouth.

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. For additional information, or to schedule a flu vaccine appointment, call the Health Department at 800-432-4121.

For more information about flu vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov/flu. To schedule an appointment at a Community Immunization Clinic, call the Health Department at 800-432-4121 during regular business hours.


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