"Since 2009 H1N1 influenza disease is likely to continue, people should still get the H1N1 vaccine," said Joshua Meyerson, MD, Medical Director for the Health Department. "This is a great time to get the vaccine if you haven't already."
When people get vaccinated, they help their community by preventing the spread of the flu virus. If enough Americans get vaccinated, it could lessen the impact or even prevent a third wave of H1N1 flu.
"Influenza is unpredictable and we do not know the likelihood of a future wave for the H1N1 virus," said Meyerson. "We do know that vaccination is the single best way to protect against influenza."
Although H1N1 activity has decreased, Meyerson warned that there are still four months of flu season remaining adding that, "People can still get sick from this flu so it’s not too late to get vaccinated."
While the seasonal flu is often most serious for older adults, H1N1 has affected many children, younger adults and middle-aged adults. Although vaccination is the best way to prevent H1N1, Meyerson says people need to take other precautions as well such as practicing good cough etiquette, washing their hands frequently and staying at home if they are sick.
The 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine is available for free by appointment at Health Department offices in Bellaire, Mancelona, Charlevoix, Petoskey/Harbor Springs, and Gaylord. Some physician practices and Walgreens pharmacies also offer H1N1 vaccine; they may charge a small fee to administer it.
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 an appointment, call the Health Department at 800-432-4121 during regular business hours.