Fast approaching flu season has doctors pushing vaccinations

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Meijer pharmacists and local doctors are encouraging people to get a flu shot, saying peak flu season is expected to hit sooner than years past.

Jamie Vroman, Meijer Regional Pharmacy Specialist said, "It really varies year-to-year, typically it's going to peak in January or February."

However. several states are already getting local activity, including right here in Michigan. Dr. Dan McGee, Pediatric Hospitalist at Helen Devos Children's Hospital, says 10 people have been hospitalized in Michigan because of the flu. He says even though these numbers are low, influenza is no joke.

"One of the things I think is important to know is that last year over 100 people (children) died of influenza in the United States," Dr. McGee said.

To stop the flu before it ruins the holidays, experts are asking everyone to get a flu shot.

Vroman and McGee say there are two flu shots, one for the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. This year's Northern Hemisphere flu shot was reformulated after Australia saw one of its worst flu seasons on record, hopeful this year's formula will be able to fight multiple strains, including the most common strain: H3N2.

"Our vaccine is different, it’s reformulated each year depending on which ones (strains) are predicted to be present," Dr. McGee said. "So far there’s been very little influenza in the U.S. except for a few locations, so we really don’t know how well it’s going to match but so far it looks okay."

In addition to getting a flu shot, experts say the best way to prevent the flu is by washing your hands and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination week (Dec. 3-9), Meijer pharmacists are recommending everyone get a flu shot, saying most all health insurances are welcomed without a co-pay.

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