This story appeared in The Oakland Press. Read the full story here.  

While the COVID-19 numbers continue to be high, the number of flu cases in Michigan and the nation has dropped considerably from a year ago.

A total of eight patient visits due to influenza like illness (ILI) was reported out of 3,144 office visits in Michigan for the week ended Jan 2. That is a 0.3 ILI activity rate for the state which is down from 0.5 percent last week.

A year ago on Jan. 4, 2020, it was at 3.0 percent when there were 246 patient visits out of 8,335 office visits.

Comparatively, the number nationally is 1.6 percent of outpatient visits which remains the same as last week and substantially lower than it was a year ago when it stood at 5.8 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that seasonal flu activity is lower than usual this year nationally.

ILI is defined as a fever (higher than 100 degrees) and a cough and/or a sore throat without a known cause other than influenza.

Nationally one pediatric death due to the flu has been confirmed for the 2020-2021 flu season.

Much like COVID-19, influenza viruses are spread when a person who has influenza coughs, sneezes, or speaks which releases viruses into the air where other people can inhale the viruses. When these viruses enter the nose, throat, or lungs of a person, they begin to multiply, causing disease. The viruses may also be spread when a person touches a surface with flu viruses on it and then touches their nose or mouth, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website.

If you have flu symptoms and are at high risk of serious flu complications, call your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Your provider may decide to treat you with flu antiviral medications.

A flu shot is recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older with rare exceptions. It is not too late to be vaccinated.

To find a place near you for a flu vaccine go to Michigan.gov/flu. Many drug store chains and retailers offer flu shots.

According to the CDC, getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, however flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death.