The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is gearing up for the 2007-2008 influenza season by making special efforts to reach out to high-risk patients as well as children in need of a second dose of influenza vaccine. Vaccine manufacturers expect shipments to be made on-time this year and MDCH is urging providers, local health departments, and community vaccinators to begin vaccinating patients.
"As the 2007-2008 flu season approaches, we encourage all of Michigan's residents to be vaccinated against the flu," said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. "Ask your doctor if you are at high-risk for influenza-related complications and be sure to get vaccinated. If you are a new parent, a health care professional, and/or have contact with people age 65 and older, protect those high-risk individuals by getting vaccinated."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year in the United States, an average of 5 percent to 20 percent of the population gets the flu, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and about 36,000 people die from flu. More than 90 percent of those deaths are among persons age 65 or older. Even though last year's flu season was mild, 68 deaths among children were reported to CDC.
"The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year," said Dr. Greg Holzman, State Chief Medical Executive. "Contrary to popular myth, the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. There are two types of flu vaccinations available: the "flu shot" and the nasal-spray flu vaccine; both are effective in preventing the flu."
Studies show people with flu can infect others up to 1 day before they start having symptoms and, once sick, they can infect others for up to 5 days. About half of all people with influenza infections do not have any symptoms; these people can infect others without knowing they are sick.
Influenza activity most often occurs in January or later, therefore it is important to know that if you do not get vaccinated in October or November, you can still get get vaccinated in December or later. Though it varies, flu season can last until May. For information on receiving the flu vaccine, please contact your doctor's office or your local health department.