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Friday, December 07, 2012 - Community encouraged to get flu vaccine, shots available at GHC

An annual flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu and the flu-related complications that could lead to hospitalization and even death. Flu shots are available at Oakland University's Graham Health Center for $20.

As part of National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) recommends that all Michigan’s citizens 6 months and older get a flu shot.

Nationally, flu vaccination coverage estimates show that roughly 42 percent of people 6 months of age and older received a flu vaccine last season. Unfortunately, that means that the majority of those who are recommended to receive the influenza vaccination went unprotected. Michigan estimates for flu vaccination coverage are at 38.8 percent, which is even lower than the national average.

“Every year, flu spreads across the country from person to person, family to family, and community to community,” said James K. Haveman, Director of the MDCH. “One of the greatest challenges we face from the flu is the uncertainty of the disease. Flu viruses are constantly changing which is why we need to protect ourselves and our families with an annual flu vaccine.”

Last week flu activity throughout the United States increased. In Michigan, there is local flu activity, which reflects recent increases in laboratory-confirmed influenza cases and a facility outbreak from the Southwest region of the state.

The severity of the flu can vary from mild to severe. When severe, flu complications can lead to hospitalization and in some cases death. Even healthy children and adults can get sick from the flu. Each year it’s estimated that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized because of flu-related complications. People with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma are at greater risk of experiencing serious health complications as a result of flu. A flu vaccine is the first and best way to prevent influenza and is particularly important in people who are at higher risk of serious flu complications.

Getting a flu vaccine is more convenient than ever before. Vaccines are available from physicians, local health departments, and at many retail pharmacies. Many employers, colleges and universities also offer flu vaccines. Additionally, the annual vaccine supply continues to grow, helping to ensure that enough vaccine is available for everyone.

“When you’re out and about in your community and see signs offering flu shots, or when you visit your doctor for a routine check-up, remember: the flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent the flu,” said Haveman.

For more information about flu in Michigan visit michigan.gov/flu. For more information about health services or receiving a flu shot at Graham Health Center, view the website at oakland.edu/ghc. To find a flu vaccine location, click here.