This story appeared in Fox 47. Read the full story here.

Nearly 2.4 million Michiganders have gotten their flu vaccine this season, putting the state more than halfway towards its goal of 4.2 million flu vaccinations, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced today.

“It’s more important than ever that Michiganders get their flu vaccine to protect themselves and their families and help us save crucial resources for hospitals to fight the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “As we head into the winter months and the 2020-2021 flu season, I urge more Michiganders to get their flu vaccine, and make sure your kids get one too. And as always, mask up, practice safe physical distancing, and wash your hands frequently to protect yourselves, your family, and our brave frontline workers from COVID-19. We will get through this together.”

“This is great news, but we still need more Michiganders to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief deputy for health and chief medical executive. “Influenza can be deadly and getting the flu vaccine is a step we can take to protect against it. Every flu-related hospitalization we see this season will put an additional strain on our hospitals that are already dealing with a surge of COVID-19 patients.”

During the 2019-2020 flu season, the nation recorded 39 to 56 million estimated cases of the flu [lnks.gd], 18 to 26 million medical visits due to the flu and nearly half a million hospitalizations. Despite its comparison to the common cold, the flu is a very serious and potentially deadly disease, especially for children, older people and those with chronic health conditions. Last season, 187 children died [lnks.gd] from the flu in the United States, including six children in Michigan.

The flu vaccine is available across the state and residents can find a location nearby at Michigan.gov/Flu.

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.

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.

Michiganders should contact their local health departments, physicians or 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