This article appeared in the Daily Press. Read the story here.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging Michiganders to get their flu vaccine this fall and help prevent an outbreak of a second communicable disease that – with COVID-19 still very much a concern – could put our state’s economy and health care system at greater risk.
Last flu season, an estimated 3.2 million people in Michigan received a flu vaccine as documented in the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR). While reporting doses to the MCIR is strongly encouraged, it is not mandatory for adults aged 20 years and older. The state has set a goal of achieving a 33 percent increase in flu vaccination this season, which means more than 1 million people over last flu season. To accurately reflect how many Michiganders are receiving flu vaccine this season, reporting all doses to the MCIR is vital.
The vaccine is already available in some parts of Michigan, with an ample supply expected across the state and nation starting in early fall.
“It’s more important than ever for Michiganders everywhere to get your flu vaccine. Preventing the flu will help us save lives and preserve the health care resources we need to continue fighting COVID-19,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Every flu-related hospitalization we see this season will put an additional strain on Michigan’s economy and our health care systems and hospitals. 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.”
The flu vaccine campaign – Facing the Flu Together – will include multiple media sources including TV and connected TV, social and digital media, podcasts, print and radio advertising. Ads and messages will begin Aug. 31 and reach audiences across Michigan, including targeting the most vulnerable and at-risk populations. An updated flu vaccine website at Michigan.gov/Flu also launched today with comprehensive resources with more information soon to be added.
During the 2019-2020 flu season, the nation recorded 39 to 56 million estimated cases of the flu, 18 to 26 million medical visits due to the flu and nearly half a million flu hospitalizations. Despite its comparison to the common cold, the flu is a very serious and potentially deadly disease, especially for children, older people and people with chronic health conditions. Last season, 187 children died from the flu in the United States, including six children in Michigan.
“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 support the effort to get Michiganders vaccinated against the flu, the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, Michigan Primary Care Association and the Franny Strong Foundation joined Governor Whitmer and MDHHS in calling on residents to get vaccinated. Michigan’s health care system, hospitals and health clinics will be ramping up efforts to vaccinate for the flu this fall and throughout the season.
Additionally, the state’s I Vaccinate campaign is working to educate residents about the safety of vaccinating. In an effort to help parents protect their children from all serious vaccine-preventable diseases, I Vaccinate provides the facts parents need to make informed decisions about vaccinations.
As the flu vaccine becomes available, Michiganders should contact their local health departments, physicians and pharmacies to schedule a time to get the flu shot, and to seek out credible sources like IVaccinate.org for answers to vaccine questions. For more information about the flu, visit Michigan.gov/Flu.