Michigan residents are being reminded that it is not too late to get your flu vaccine during National Influenza Week.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has declared the week of December 2 through December 8 as National Influenza Week to promote awareness about the importance of the flu vaccine and provide a reminder to get the flu shot for those who have not done so yet this season.

“The flu isn’t on anyone’s holiday wish list,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. “It is important to get vaccinated now to protect yourself and your family. The vaccine is your best defense against the flu and will help reduce the severity of symptoms if you catch the flu despite being vaccinated.”

The flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by different strain of the influenza virus and can result in mild to sever illness.

The MDHHS said 39.5 percent of Michiganders reported receiving a flu shot, which is below the national rate of 41.7 percent.

Officials said those most severely affected by the flu are children younger than 5 years old, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and those over 65 years old.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017’s flu season was estimated to be the deadliest since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.

During the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC estimates that the flu caused:

  • 49 million illnesses – more than the combined populations of Texas and Florida
  • 960,000 flu hospitalizations – more than the number of staffed hospital beds in the US
  • 79,000 deaths – more than the average number of people who attend the Super Bowl each year

Of the 79,000 deaths, 185 were reported to be children.

In 2017, two children in Michigan died from flu-related complications.

The CDC recommends routine annual influenza vaccinations for all persons 6 months of age and older. This year there are many flu vaccine options available, and residents should speak with a healthcare provider about which flu vaccine is best for them.

Flu vaccines are available at many locations throughout Michigan, including doctor’s offices, pharmacies and local health departments.

To find a location near you, you can go online.

Additionally, there are several programs across the state that will assist with the cost of the vaccine. The Vaccines for Children program provides flu vaccine for free to those who are uninsured. Contact your local health department to learn more about these programs.

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