(From the Washtenaw County Public Health Department)
It is time for everyone six months and older to get vaccinated against flu (influenza). Over 30 cases of flu have been diagnosed in the last few weeks in Washtenaw County, almost all in young adults. No hospitalizations have been reported.
“A lot of people say ‘it’s just the flu,’” says Christina Zilke, immunization coordinator at Washtenaw County Public Health. “However, influenza is a serious respiratory illness. Nationally, it causes more hospitalizations and deaths than all other vaccine preventable diseases combined. In Washtenaw County, we had almost 300 flu-related hospitalizations last flu season.”
The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your community from the flu is get vaccinated. Vaccination can protect against hospitalization and death due to flu, as well as reduce the spread of illness in our community.
Aside from vaccination, it is also vital to stay home if you are sick, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, wash your hands often using soap and warm water, and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
Check the Washtenaw County Public Health website for ongoing information and surveillance on this year’s flu season.
Where to Get Vaccinated
Flu vaccine is widely available at area medical offices, pharmacies and community events. Seehttp://flushot.healthmap.org/ for local options. Most people with insurance can get flu shots at their doctors’ offices or pharmacies for free.
Washtenaw County Public Health offers vaccines to children and adults regardless of insurance status or income. Cost for the flu shot is $30 for children and $40 for adults. Call 734-544-6700 to schedule an appointment. More information is available on our flu vaccine web page.
The nasal flu vaccine is no longer recommended, so all vaccine should be administered in a shot.
Last Year’s Flu Season
The 2016-2017 flu season was moderately severe. Flu season activity remained low until January 2017, reached peak levels in late February and March, and finally slowed in May 2017.
There were 296 flu-related hospitalizations of Washtenaw County residents last flu season. This is the second highest number since tracking began in 2009. The majority of the hospitalizations were in individuals over 65 years old. Ten flu-related deaths were reported in adults. There was one flu-related death in a Washtenaw child; the first one reported in over a decade.
Washtenaw County had the best rate of flu vaccination for Michigan in 2016-2017, as measured by the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR). Overall, 39 percent of Washtenaw residents 6 months and older were vaccinated against flu, compared to 26 percent statewide. Although Washtenaw County is the highest in the state for vaccinating children against flu, the current rate of vaccination in five to 12 year olds (41 percent) has fallen from the 2013-14 flu season, when the rate was 50 percent locally.
Symptoms of the flu include: coughing, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, sore throat, headache, fatigue, fever and/or chills. The flu can affect anyone, but older adults, children and individuals with chronic health conditions are at greater risk for severe complications from flu.
Flu is a contagious illness that can be spread person to person through droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks.
Other sources of reliable flu information
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) www.cdc.gov/flu
The Michigan Department of Community Health www.michigan.gov/flu
The Immunization Action Coalition www.immunize.org/influenza