In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 8-14, the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department is taking this opportunity to tell the community how important it is to get an annual influenza vaccination.
After November when you see signs that advertise: "Get Your Flu Vaccine Here," you might think, "Isn't it too late for that?"
The answer is no, it's not too late.
"Flu season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May," says Joyce Ziegler, RNC, Community Health Services Director at the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department. "We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated this season to get vaccinated now."
An annual flu vaccine is the single best way to protect against getting the flu.
The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is also 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."
For millions of people every season, the flu can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed.
However, you may not realize that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States from flu complications each year, Health Department officials said.
The flu also can be deadly: Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of yearly flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people during the most severe season.
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.
This is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.
It's available as a shot and as a nasal spray.
Anyone can get the flu, but some people are at greater risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia, that can lead to hospitalization and even death.
For those at greater risk for complications, getting the flu vaccine is especially important. People at greater risk include, but are not limited to:
- Children younger than 5 years old, and especially children younger than 2 years old.
- Pregnant women.
- People 65 years and older.
- People with certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease.
Ask your doctor if you are uncertain whether you or your family are at a greater risk for flu complications, Health Department officials said.
It's also important to get the vaccine if you care for anyone at high risk, including babies younger than 6 months because they are too young to get the vaccine.
Children 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting vaccinated for the first time need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected.
If a child has not received his/her first dose, get them vaccinated now. For children who are 6 months through 8 years of age and who have been vaccinated with one dose, parents should check with the child's doctor to see if a second dose is needed.
"Getting the flu vaccine is simple, and it's the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu," said Ziegler.
Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, missed work due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. Millions of people have safely received flu vaccines for decades.
For more information about influenza and the influenza vaccination visit www.cdc.gov/flu.
Flu vaccines are available at more locations than ever before. Michigan residents can get vaccinated at health care provider offices, local health departments, or pharmacies. To find a location near you, visit flushot.healthmap.org.
For an appointment for the influenza vaccination contact your health care provider or the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department at 774-1868 or (906) 265-9913