This story appeared in The Oakland Press. Read the full story here.

It’s flu vaccine season which has taken on additional importance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Oakland County Health Division will begin administering flu shots on Oct. 13 at the North Oakland Health Center in Pontiac and on Oct. 19 at the South Oakland Health Center in Southfield. Appointments are required.

Flu vaccines are also available at doctor’s offices and certain pharmacies.

“Demand for flu shots in general and high-dose vaccine for individuals over age 65, in particular, have been very high so far this season,’’ said Lynn Sutfin, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Some shortages have been reported due to demand, but the vaccine supply will be replenished.

“More doses of flu vaccine are being produced this year than any other year. Manufacturers are continuing to push out vaccines and more are on the way,’’ Sutfin said.

Flu can be life-threatening. Most people have a fever for 3-4 days and other symptoms that last longer. However, some people may develop more serious complications including pneumonia, according to the county website.

“The reality is even though we’re going through COVID right now a significant amount of people die from the flu every year as well,’’ said Kayleigh Blaney, an epidemiologist with the Oakland County Health Department. “It’s not as significant of a number as COVID, it still is pretty significant, very significant. It causes a lot of hospitalizations every year. It causes a huge strain on the medical system caring for people with the flu.’’

During the 2019-2020 flu season, the nation recorded 39 million to 56 million estimated cases of the flu, 18 million to 26 million medical visits due to the flu and nearly a half-million flu hospitalizations, according to the MDHHS. 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.

Vaccines at the county cost $24; the senior dose flu vaccine for those 65 and older is $54 and a fluMist (live attenuated intranasal spray) costs $31. Appointments can be made at the Oakland County Health Department website or by calling 248-858-1302.