This story appeared in MLive. Read the article here.

Michigan health officials are worried about the potential strain that a bad flu season, combined with the coronavirus pandemic, could have on the state’s health care system this year.

To reduce the risk of the state facing two communicable disease outbreaks at the same time, the Department of Health and Human Services is urging residents to get their flu vaccination this fall.

On Tuesday, Aug. 25, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a statewide media campaign — Facing the Flu Together — to encourage Michiganders to get the flu shot. The campaign’s goal is a 33% increase from the 3.2 million residents who received a vaccination last year — or more than 1 million more residents than 2019.

“It’s more important than ever for Michiganders everywhere to get your flu vaccine,” Whitmer said. “Preventing the flu will help us save lives and preserve the health care resources we need to continue fighting COVID-19.

“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.”

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, said there’s a lot of misinformation about influenza 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,” she said. “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.”

Dr. Khaldun said the vaccine does not cause the flu. Additionally, she said the vaccine can prevent 40-60 percent of cases of the flu, and that if someone with the vaccine gets the flu, they tend to have less severe cases and are less likely to be hospitalized or to die due to the flu.

The flu can be especially dangerous for children, older people and people with chronic health conditions. Last year, the CDC estimated there were 24,000 to 62,000 flu deaths in the U.S. Of those, 187 were children, including six in Michigan.

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