State confirms first cases of 2016-2017 flu season
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Michigan Osteopathic Association (MOA), and Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) are urging all Michigan residents to protect themselves against influenza (flu) and its potentially life-threatening consequences by getting vaccinated. The first flu cases in the state for the 2016-2017 season have been confirmed by the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories.
"Residents should go get their flu immunization today in order to have optimal protection throughout the flu season," said Eden Wells, M.D., chief medical executive for MDHHS. "The flu is not something to be taken lightly as it can have serious and evenly deadly consequences. In our communities and as healthcare professionals, it's important we encourage those around us to get their flu vaccine every year."
The first official week of the 2016-2017 flu season was October 2-8, and during that time the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories (BOL) identified the first two influenza cases for the state of Michigan. Influenza A/H3 was confirmed in both individuals, who are adults from Southeast Michigan. BOL has identified additional influenza A/H3 positive specimens throughout the month of September, and we expect more influenza confirmations in the coming weeks.
"We encourage all children and adults to get vaccinated," said Michigan State Medical Society president David M. Krhovsky, MD. "By doing so, folks are not only protecting themselves and their own families, but others who are unable to receive the vaccine as well."
Annual flu vaccination is the single best way to prevent getting the flu and its complications. Only injectable flu shots are recommended this season; the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), also known as the "nasal spray" flu vaccine FluMist, is not recommended due to low vaccine effectiveness.
"Flu shots are sometimes overlooked and dismissed as unnecessary," said Michigan Osteopathic Association president Bruce Wolf, DO, FAOCR. "But getting vaccinated protects our communities -- from infants and children to the elderly and immunocompromised -- from the potential risks that accompany the flu virus."
Flu is a contagious respiratory virus that often causes fever, sore throat, cough, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and fatigue. People already infected with flu can spread the virus to others even before they feel sick.
Everyone six months of age and older should receive a flu vaccine every year. While most people who get influenza do recover, others may develop more serious complications. It is especially important that children, adults ages 65 years and older, persons with chronic health conditions, and pregnant women get vaccinated against flu. Flu vaccination for pregnant women does not just protect the mother, it also protects the unborn child.
Unfortunately, one influenza-associated pediatric death was reported in Michigan during the 2015-2016 flu season. What is especially concerning is that flu vaccination coverage in Michigan's 65 years and older population dropped considerably in the 2015-2016 flu season, down to 59.5 percent. And according to Michigan Care Improvement Registry data, flu vaccination coverage for Michigan children aged 6 months to 4 years has decreased for the past two years, down to 45.8 percent.
There is no way to know when flu activity will be widespread in our communities, which is why Michigan residents should get vaccinated against the flu now before they are exposed to a flu virus. It takes about two weeks to be fully protected after vaccination.
For more information about vaccinations in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/immunize and www.michigan.gov/flu. To find a vaccine near you, visit vaccine.healthmap.org.