Flu Basically Disappeared Last Season This Season It Might Not Michigan Doctors Warn
A “flu shot” sign outside of Family Health Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020Joel Bissell | MLive.com
While all attention seems to be on the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 vaccines, doctors say flu shots are important as summer turns to fall and children have returned to in-person learning.
Last year, there were fewer cases of the contagious respiratory illness, a pleasant byproduct of widespread masking, social distancing and remote learning, said Dr. Russell Lampen, an infectious disease expert at Spectrum Health, based in Grand Rapids.
My concern is that we are going to have increasing rates of influenza again. The flu, while low-level last year, has not gone away. And like all viruses, its looking for an opportunity and looking for susceptible individuals to infect, Lampen said in a call with reporters earlier this month.
It is important to note, on average, about 25,000 to 35,000 deaths result from influenza, every year in the United States, he said.
Michigan health systems, struggling with staffing and an influx of patients, are presently overburdened. Some of this is related to the pandemic.
And if we can do anything to prevent those deaths and those hospitalizations from occurring, thats going to be important, Lampen said.
Last year, the state launched a Facing the Flu Together campaign to encourage flu vaccines, prevent illness and preserve resources needed to fight COVID-19.
Read more on MLive:
Michigans Flu Season Turns Deadly Early With Some Clinics Short On Vaccine
A 69-year-old Oakland County man has died from the flu becoming an early and apparently first death of the Michigan flu season, even as overall flu cases remain sporadic.
The death, announced Thursday by the Oakland County Health Division, comes as health officials campaign for more residents to get vaccines, and as pockets of Michigan struggle to get enough shots to meet demand.
The shortage has forced some county departments, including Oakland Countys, to postpone or cancel clinics, while other providers say they have plenty in stock even as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that consumers were vaccinated by Oct. 31.
In some cases, retailers may have one kind of vaccine, but theyre struggling to build stock in another.
It seems to be a lag behind where we usually are. pushed back shipping dates, so thats pushed back our ability to have them on hand for consumers, said Ruth Manier, director of community health services at Dickinson-Iron District Health Department in Michigans Upper Peninsula.
Her department has already cancelled six clinics and postponed several others, she said.
The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department also has struggled to get enough doses of vaccines that protect the general public and a high-dose version for seniors, said Cari DiGiorgio, the departments public health director.
Michigan Seeing Rise In Cold And Flu As Physicians Consider Longer Sick Season
Physicians remind residents of the importance of washing your hands and screening for symptoms as more cases of influenza and other seasonal illnesses pop up following the ditching of community masking. Cory Morse | MLive.com
Michigans cold and flu season typically begins its wind down in April as the weather begins to warm and residents open their windows and get outside more.
However at least a few health officials think this years season might stretch a little later into the spring as theyve seen an uptick in non-COVID illness following the communitys ditching of mask requirements.
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Cdc To Probe Massive Flu Outbreak At The University Of Michigan
Most of the flu cases have occurred in unvaccinated individuals.
A sudden surge of influenza cases on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus has drawn the attention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , which has now deployed a team of experts to investigate the outbreak.
The campus’s first flu case was flagged on Oct. 6, and, since then, the University Health Service has diagnosed 528 additional people with influenza, according to The University Record , the university’s news service. During the week of Nov. 1, 27.2% of the flu tests given came back positive, with a total of 198 new flu cases identified on the campus. And the week of Nov. 8, the test positivity rate shot up to 37%, when 313 additional people were diagnosed with flu.
Local health officials worked with the School of Public Health and Michigan Medicine researchers to identify the strain of flu behind the outbreak, concluding it was a subtype of influenza A virus called H3N2. Some 77.1% of the campus cases occurred in individuals who had not received this year’s flu vaccine.
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To learn more about the outbreak, the university just launched an investigation in partnership with the CDC, WCHD and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. During the investigation called an Epi-Aid CDC officials will visit the site for one to three weeks to address what is considered an urgent public health problem.
What You Need To Know About This Years Flu Season
Beginning Sept. 1, Occupational Health Services will offer many opportunities to get your flu shot at Michigan Medicine, including free flu clinics across the medical campus and a drive-thru clinic available on select Saturdays or Sundays in September and October. Make sure to have your ID badge when you arrive. Flu shot stickers will not be provided this year.
Registration will be required for all flu shot clinics to provide adequate social distancing and reducing large gatherings. A full list of clinic dates and links to register for each are available here.
Areas with clinical unit flu liaisons are strongly encouraged to utilize these staff members to help provide the vaccine to staff.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to alter our work environments, employees are also encouraged to utilize your doctors office, pharmacy or community flu shot resources.
If you receive your flu shot at any location outside of the OHS flu clinics, documentation must be provided, with the your name and UMID number on it, and sent directly to OHS via email to .
OHS will not provide walk-in or scheduled appointments in its Med Inn clinic for flu shots. The clinic will be reserved for COVID-19 vaccine administration and other occupational health needs and appointments. Please utilize one of the other options previously mentioned.
For more information about this years flu program, visit the Flu Prevention webpage.
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Who Should Not Be Vaccinated
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
- People who developed Guillian-Barre Syndrome within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously.
- Children less than 6 months of age .
- People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.
Data Collection Analysis Interpretation And Dissemination
Following the receipt of confirmed cases of influenza from labs, physicians, and hospital infection control departments, the data will be entered into a database. From October through May, surveillance information will be updated weekly. Aggregate data on confirmed cases and school reporting data will be available on the Kent County Health Departments influenza website. An epidemiologist will analyze and interpret data and determine how the data relates to trends seen at the state and national levels.
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Flu Symptom And Covid
Influenza is a viral infection that attacks the nose, throat and lungs. Flu symptoms usually last three to seven days.
The flu is different from a cold and typically causes more severe symptoms and complications than cold viruses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , as much as 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from flu each season
Individuals At High Risk Of Flu Complications
Some individuals are more likely to get flu complications that can result in hospitalization and sometimes death.
Specific high-risk groups include:
- Adults aged 65 years and older
- Children younger than 5 years of age, specifically those younger than 2 years
- Pregnant women
- Individuals with chronic health conditions including asthma, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, children with neurologic conditions
The CDC has more information about individuals at high-risk for flu complications.
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A Bad Strain Plus Low Vaccination Rates
So far this year, 90 percent of flu cases are the H3N2 strain, according to the CDC.
Thats a strain that could point to a bad flu season ahead, Ho said.
The majority of the time flu infection is going to be uncomplicated youre not going to feel well, Ho said. But what weve seen is, during years when H3N2 is circulating, weve had higher rates of hospitalization and death.
The last time H3N2 was the dominant strain was the 2017-18 flu season, when the U.S. saw 710,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 52,000 flu-related deaths, the worst since the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. The 2017-18 flu season also began in early November and was one of the longest flu seasons in recent years.
Ho also noted that the H3N2 tends to mutate faster than other strains of influenza. This years flu shot does cover a version of H3N2, but there is a chance that it could change enough for the vaccine to become less effective, he said. We just dont know yet.
That doesnt mean people should skip their flu shots. At the University of Michigan, 77 percent of cases so far have been in unvaccinated students, a factor that Ho said is contributing to the outbreak. While many people are getting vaccinated against Covid this year, fewer people are getting their flu shots, he said.
Still, theres a chance the dominant strain will change.
Right now, the flu outbreaks seem to be contained to just a few college campuses, making it still too early to tell how this years flu season will go.
This Flu Season Looks Deadly Yet Much Of Michigan Wont Get Its Shot
GRAND RAPIDSAs she waited for a flu shot on Thursday at a Grand Rapids public health clinic, Ellen Stuart recalled when she first moved to the city more than 40 years ago.
I came down with the flu and was sick for two weeks, she recalled. I was flat on my back. Next year, I got the flu again.
So she decided to get a flu shot the following year as shes done every year since.
Ive never had it again, knock on wood, said Stuart, a 68-year-old retired nursing professor.
But amid indications of what could be a particularly deadly flu season, which unofficially began Oct. 1, recent history says wide swaths of Michigan may not be as prepared for whats to come. That could pose challenges in a state with flu vaccination rates below the national average.
In the Upper Peninsulas Menominee County, just 14.3 percent of adults got the flu shot last flu season last among the states 83 counties. Among children 6 months to 18 years old, it was nearly as bad, as only 15 percent got flu shots, second worst among counties.
In another rural U.P county, just 18 percent of Baraga County adults got flu shots 79th among counties and 22 percent of children under 18 got shots, 71st among counties.
And low rates are not confined to rural Michigan.
In the past decade, according to MDHHS, Michigan also has recorded 35 deaths of children under age 18.
Mike Wilkinson contributed to this article.
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Human Resources University Of Michigan
Under the organizations influenza vaccination policy, faculty, staff, students and volunteers must receive their annual vaccine by or receive an approved exemption or . This includes all employees who work remotely. Those with an approved exemption or declination will be required to wear a mask in patient care areas for the entire flu season.
Members of AFSCME, BMETs of the Skilled Trades Union, IUOE and UMPNC unions should refer to their union contracts and/or memoranda of understanding pertaining to flu vaccinations for additional information that applies to each of the respective unions.
Influenza Vaccination Rates By Census Tract
As of 3:00 p.m., February 01, 2022Source: Michigan Care Improvement Registry and Michigan Geographic Framework Data.
In addition to looking at county-level influenza immunization rates, looking at data by census tract can help identify disparities in vaccination rates at the neighborhood level. This can help the health department and community partners prioritize areas for education and outreach activities. The maps below show the percentage of people who have received an influenza vaccine in each of the 57 census tracts in Kalamazoo County.
Ages Under 5
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What Is The Flu
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness typically in the nose, throat, and lungs caused by influenza viruses. It can result in mild to severe illness and sometimes death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting vaccinated each year with a flu vaccine. Use the vaccine finder to find a flu vaccine location near you! Find out more about flu by clicking the flu basics button below.
University Of Michigan Flu Outbreak Prompts Worries Of Statewide Jump
Masking, social distancing and other safety protocols helped Michigan avoid a feared twindemic of COVID and flu patients last year. But a large outbreak of flu at the University of Michigan this week has some health authorities worried the state wont be so lucky this year.
The University Health Service has reported 528 flu cases since Oct. 6 511 in the past two weeks, according to the university.
Timing wise, its not particularly unusual, but the size of it is just beyond what we typically would expect to see, said Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, spokesperson for the Washtenaw County Health Department, which includes Ann Arbor.
Ringler-Cerniglia said its not yet clear whether the flu is hitting more heavily this year or if more people are getting tested.
Is there a lot more detection? Were people feeling crummy enough that they sought care ? I dont think we really know that yet, she said.
It could certainly be an indication of a more severe season.
Getting vaccinated against the flu would certainly help, but Michigan is well below its goal of vaccinating 4 million residents. As of Tuesday, fewer than 2.1 million residents had received flu shots, according to state data.
In Ann Arbor, more than 3 in 4 of those who were positive for flu were unvaccinated, according to the university.
The takeaway here is that people should get their vaccines if they haven’t already, he said.
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Flu Activity Is Low In The Us Right Now But Increasing
Last year’s flu season was unusually mild, likely due to a multitude of factors include the adoption of COVID-19 prevention strategies such as masks, hand-washing and social distancing. But it’s not clear yet whether or not this season will follow a similar pattern. With COVID-19 vaccines available now, many areas of the country have forgone the coronavirus mitigation strategies that were common last flu season.
During the week ending in Nov. 6, the most recent week for which CDC data are available, seasonal flu activity was low. There was only one jurisdiction in which flu-like activity which may include instances of respiratory syncytial virus and other respiratory illnesses was considered high and one where flu activity was moderate .
But it wasn’t just masks and distancing that factored into last year’s drastic drop in flu cases higher than usual vaccination rates also played a role, the CDC explained. This season, however, early data indicate that vaccination rates are lagging among children and pregnant people, some of those most vulnerable to severe flu. In fact, more than 90% of flu cases detected so far this season are among children and young adults, the CDC said, and most are H3N2.
When it comes to what flu season might hold this year, it’s “still not a very clear picture,” Dr. Waleed Javaid, director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York, told TODAY. “It’s not clear which direction the flu season is going to go.”
Other Ways To Prevent The Flu
A healthy immune system stands between our bodies and infections. During cold and flu season, its especially important to keep your immune system strong. Heres how:
- Get enough sleep. Research shows that lack of sleep leaves you more vulnerable to viruses. Adults and children should try to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
- Keep moving. Regular physical activity helps your body fight infection. Experts recommend two-and-a-half to five hours of moderate exercise weekly.
- Eat right. A variety of nutrient-rich foods will keep your immune system at its peak. Include whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. Fish and dairy products fortified with vitamin D may be especially good for boosting immunity.
- Take it easy. Stress weakens your ability to ward off disease. Try a relaxation technique like meditation, which research shows can help you maintain your immune system.
These hygiene practices can also help keep the flu at bay:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
- Cover your nose and mouth if you sneeze or cough
- Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth as little as possible
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