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As the flu circulates in Michigan, is it too late to get your flu shot?

Flu Vaccine
Posted at 2:59 PM, Mar 11, 2024

In today’s Health Alert, influenza continues to circulate at high levels in Michigan. Given that it's late in the flu season, some may be wondering whether it's still worthwhile to get the flu shot. 

I get asked that all the time by my patients, and here's my answer. If there's any flu activity happening, it's definitely not too late to get the flu shot. Here in Michigan, we have not yet plateaued. Cases are still climbing and the CDC’s flu activity map shows our state as “Very High” for influenza. Looking at Michigan’s weekly influenza report, just over 8,800 outpatient visits in the week ending March 2 were due to influenza-like illness. Most of the flu results reported were H1N1, a type of influenza A virus.

While you may think it’s a bit late in the flu season to get the shot, there can be significant flu activity well into the month of May. The annual flu shot is your best defense against this virus. Estimates for this season show 41% to 44% effectiveness against hospitalization for adults and 52% to 61% for children.

According to the CDC, roughly 44.9% of adults and 50% of children were vaccinated for the flu this season. Here in Michigan, about 25% of adults and 19% of kids got the vaccine. That’s pretty low. The reluctance to get vaccinated could be due to COVID-19 vaccine fatigue. But also, many people think, “I’m healthy, so I don’t need a flu vaccine.” Because the flu has been around so long, people just accept it as part of life. But unfortunately, the flu can cause serious illness and death, even in healthy people.

The CDC estimates we’ve had 310,000 hospitalizations and about 20,000 people have died. 103 were pediatric deaths, including one here in Michigan. Sadly, almost 90% of the children who died were not fully vaccinated. It’s recommended that everyone six months and older get a yearly flu shot. Kids under the age of 8 get two doses if they’ve not had the shot before. I get one every year and so do my kids. And that’s because the flu vaccine can lessen the severity of your illness and it’s very effective at preventing severe illness.

So once again, I highly recommend getting vaccinated against the flu if you have not yet done so.