Flu season prevention

MARQUETTE – With winter already here, the flu season is just around the corner, which is why doctors and nurses everywhere are recommending the flu shot.

There are currently four reported confirmed cases of the flu in Michigan so far this year, according to Jean Reynolds, Michigan Department of Community Health Immunization Field Representative and public health nurse at the Marquette County Health Department.

The number of flu cases usually peaks around January and February, she said.

“Last year we had a peak in late December, right around Christmas,” Reynolds said.

So far this season the health department has given around 1,065 flu shots off site and have held 22 off site clinics, such as at schools, community centers and employer sponsored clinics, which is fewer than last year, Reynolds said.

“We give fewer shots each year because there are so many other places people can get them,” she said. “Such as pharmacies.”

Pharmacies offering flu shots in the area include Walmart, Target, Shopko, Walgreens and Snyder’s Drug Store. According to Reynolds, a flu shot is universally recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

“It’s universally recommended to protect yourself and protect your loved ones,” she said. “Sometimes you might not be as severely affected by the flu, but you might pass it on to someone else who would be severely affected.”

Reynolds said the flu shot cannot cause the flu, putting a rest to the myth, that some believe, that it can.

“By the time you get a flu shot there are so many other viruses going around that quite often it’s just a coincidence that you get sick after the shot,” she said.

Symptoms of the flu are body aches, high fever, chills and some sort of respiratory issues, such as a bad cough. Reynolds said she recommends the flu shot because even if a person doesn’t get the full blown flu, they can carry the virus around and pass it on to others.

“Seasons vary every year. Sometimes we have a bad season, sometimes not. We can never predict it,” she said. “You might not get the shot because you didn’t get the flu the last few years but you never know, you could get it this year.”

Some who gets the flu should remember to drink plenty of fluids, take a fever reducer, stay away from other and stay at home for at least 24 hours after the fever breaks. It is also possible to see a doctor and get antivirals, which may shorten the flu, Reynolds. said.

The flu vaccine comes in a mist or shot and there is a high dose options for seniors. New this year is a flu shot for those who are allergic to eggs. Flublock is a vaccine that is made without the use of a chicken egg or live virus.

“So if you’re allergic to eggs you can now get a flu shot with this new one,” Reynolds said. “We don’t have it available here at the health department, but you could probably get it from your doctor.”

For more information on the flu vaccine contact your health care provider. Appointments can be made for a flu shot at Marquette County Health Department at 475-7844.

Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243.