“Most Americans underestimate the severity of the flu,” said Joshua Meyerson, MD Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. “About 20,000 children younger than five years old are hospitalized due to flu every year.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) & Prevention recommends vaccination as the best way to protect children against the flu. Not only does vaccination help protect children from getting the flu, but it also helps stop the spread of the virus to others at school and home. The flu vaccine is safe and effective and cannot cause the flu.
With more vaccine available this year than ever before, CDC officials say vaccination for children, especially those age six months to five years and those with certain chronic health conditions, should be a top priority. Because infants under six months are too young for vaccination, the CDC recommends protecting them by having every member of the household and all the infant’s caregivers vaccinated.
The flu, which can cause symptoms such as high fever, headache, coughing, nausea, weakness, and muscle aches, can easily spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes near others.
“Because different influenza viruses circulate each year, a new flu vaccine must be made each year to fight these viruses, which is why it is so important to get a flu vaccine every year,” Meyerson said.
Flu shots are available by appointment for both children and adults at the Health Department of Northwest Michigan offices in Mancelona, Charlevoix, Harbor Springs, and Gaylord. Flu shots are $25 and pneumonia shots are $30. Medicare and Medicaid are accepted. To schedule an appointment, call the Health Department at 800-432-4121.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about flu vaccine or flu shot clinics, call 800-432-4121 or visit www.nwhealth.org or www.cdc.gov/flu.