MDHHS urges residents to get flu vaccine during upcoming season

Published 1:08 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021

LANSING — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging Michiganders to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible to protect themselves and their communities from flu especially while continuing to battle COVID-19.

Getting a flu vaccine is critical this season because flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will likely be spreading simultaneously. Importantly, residents are able to get their COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as their flu vaccine. According to the CDC, those who are at higher risk for contracting flu are also at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19. Vaccinations for both COVID-19 and the flu are safe, effective strategies to protect ourselves and our communities from illness.

“I encourage every Michigander to get their flu shot as soon as possible to protect themselves and their loved ones,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Last year, 3.5 million Michiganders got flu shots, and this year, I know that we can meet MDHHS’s statewide goal by bringing that number up to 4 million. Over the last 18 months, we’ve all seen just how critical vaccines are to keeping people safe from disease, and I want to thank every Michigander who has received their COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot. I have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and received my flu shot last week, and I hope you do too.”

The flu vaccine is the best way to reduce risk from the seasonal flu and its potential serious complications, officials said. Each year flu vaccination reduces the burden of influenza significantly in the United States preventing millions of illnesses and thousands of hospitalizations and deaths.

Last flu season, approximately 3.5 million people in Michigan received a flu vaccine as reported to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry. The state has set a goal of vaccinating a total of 4 million Michiganders for the 2021-2022 flu season.

“Everyone aged six months and up is recommended to receive a flu vaccination with rare exceptions, and we encourage them to do so as soon as possible,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “There is an ample supply of flu vaccine available in many convenient locations from primary care providers to local pharmacies. We know these vaccines are safe and they protect vulnerable Michiganders.”

The 2020-2021 flu season was unique in many ways, resulting in historically low flu activity for the entire season. Public health professionals indicate that community mitigation measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic such as masking and social distancing and influenza vaccination could have contributed to the below-average amount of influenza cases last season.

However, during a typical flu season like the 2019-2020 flu season, the nation recorded 39 to 56 million estimated cases of the flu, 18 to 26 million medical visits due to the flu and nearly half a million flu hospitalizations. 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.

Flu vaccines are available now at local health departments, physician offices and pharmacies around the state. Find a location near you using the Vaccine Finder. Visit Michigan.gov/flu for more information or visit IVaccinate.org to find answers to your vaccine questions.