This article appeared in FOX 2 Detroit. Read the story here.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is urging all of Michigan to get a flu vaccine to continue the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Gov. Whitmer spoke from Lansing at 1:30 p.m. and did not announce any major reopenings, like gyms or theaters, but did discuss the urgency for all residents to get the flu vaccine as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
While there is no vaccine for COVID-19, there is one for the flu which is proven to reduce hospitalizations and deaths from the virus.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun gave the latest information on trends in Michigan. The Detroit region is still seeing the highest cases and currently has 69 cases per million people per day but that rate has been decreasing over the past week.
The Upper Peninsula and Saginaw regions both have 57 cases per million people per day. While the UP is decreasing, Saginaw is increasing. Kalamazoo region has 53 cases per million people per day and decreasing, Grand Rapids region has 40 cases per million people per day and decreasing, the Traverse City Region reports 32 cases per million people per day but is increasing, and the Jackson/Lansing regions has 25 cases per million people per day but has been decreasing over the past two weeks.
Dr. Khaldun also announced it is tracking outbreaks throughout the state and, as of Monday, has 70 confirmed outbreaks that the health department is investigating. The state will be providing more information about the outbreaks at michigan.gov/coronavirus.
“We know COVID-19 and the flu will be circulating this fall. This incredibly concerning,” Dr. Khaldun said, while stressing the urgency for everyone to get the flu shot.
Michigan residents over the past few years have not been front of the line for the vaccine. In 2019, Dr. Khaldun said only 32% of Michigan residents got the flu vaccine. The year before, Michigan was 38th in the nation for vaccination rates.
With both viruses likely to spread in the coming months, Dr. Khaldun took the chance to dispel some myths about the virus.
“It does not cause the flu. There are some people who may have mild body aches or runny nose, that is not the flu. That’s your body mounting an immune response to fight the flu,” she said. “Some people also say the flu vaccine doesn’t work. That’s not accurate. The vaccine prevents from 40-60% of cases of the flu every year. Even if someone with the vaccine gets the flu, the disease tends to be much less severe and you’re less likely to end up in the hospital or, even worse, lose your life.”
Dr. Khaldun said part of fighting COVID-19 is getting the flu vaccine.
Gov. Whitmer’s news conference comes after last week she signed a package of education bills into law, ending a weeks-long effort to help legislate guidance for districts as they near the beginning of the fall school year.
The legislation gives districts and charter schools the option to choose in-person instruction, online or a hybrid based on consulting with local health departments. Their student count, the foundation of state funding, would be weighted heavily toward last year’s figure and less so on uncertain enrollment in the new academic year.
Last week she also announced she was allocating $65 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) dollars to school districts, higher education institutions and other education-related entities that have been most significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.