This article appeared in Detroit Metro Times. Read the story here.

Michigan health officials are urging residents to get the flu vaccine this fall to help avoid an outbreak of another communicable disease as the threat of COVID-19 remains strong.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launched a statewide media campaign Tuesday to encourage residents to get vaccinated. The campaign, called “Facing the Flu Together,” will begin running on television, social media sites, podcasts, newspapers, and radio stations on Aug. 31.

The state also updated its flu vaccine website to provide more information.

An estimated 3.2 million Michigan residents received a flu vaccine during the last flu season.

“It’s more important than ever for Michiganders everywhere to get your flu vaccine,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a news release. “Preventing the flu will help us save lives and preserve the health care resources we need to continue fighting COVID-19.”

To show the ease of getting vaccinated, Whitmer received a flu shot at a news conference.

Health officials across the country have warned that a spike in COVID-19 cases in the middle of flu season could be disastrous. Nearly half a million Americans were hospitalized with the flu last season, when as many as 56 million people were infected. During that time, the flu killed 187 children nationwide and six in Michigan.

“Every flu-related hospitalization we see this season will put an additional strain on Michigan’s economy and our health care systems and hospitals,” Whitmer said. “Our hospitals are still reeling from the spring COVID-19 hospitalizations and are working to prepare for a potential second wave of the virus. I encourage everyone to get their flu vaccine, and tell your friends and family to do the same.”

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said flu vaccines prevent 40% to 60% of the potential cases.

“There is a lot of misinformation about the flu and the flu vaccine, but the science is clear: the flu can be deadly, and there are steps that we can take to protect against it,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief deputy for health and chief medical executive. “That’s why as a parent and a doctor, I make sure myself and my children are protected each year with a flu vaccine for their safety, and for my patients, friends and community.”

To get a flu shot, contact your local health department, physician, or pharmacy.