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Posted on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

Flu shows up in Michigan early this year; vaccines recommended

By Cindy Heflin

Flu has already arrived in Michigan this year, several weeks earlier than normal. That means it's time to get your flu shot, health officials say.


Melanie Maxwell |

The Michigan Department of Community Health reported this week that the state has had 11 cases of influenza. That’s a lot for this time of year, said Laura Bauman, epidemiologist with the Washtenaw County Public Health Department. Often, the first flu cases of the season are not reported in Michigan until November or even December, she said.

Even though there have so far been no cases of seasonal flu in Washtenaw County, people shouldn’t wait to get vaccinated, she said.

Health officials recommend vaccination for everyone six months and older.

One opportunity to get a shot is coming up next Wednesday at the YMCA in Ann Arbor. The Michigan Visiting Nurses will be giving shots to those 9 and older at the facility, 400 W. Washington St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pneumonia vaccinations also will be offered.

Flu shot clinic

  • When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 17.
  • Where: Ann Arbor YMCA, 400 W. Washington St.
  • How much: If not covered by insurance, flu shots will be $33. Pneumonia shots will be $151. Cash, checks and credit cards accepted. If you have insurance, bring your card.
Many area pharmacies, including those at Kroger and Meijer, also offer the shots, or you may be able to get one from your doctor. The Michigan Visiting Nurses are also offering the shots at various times at several other locations around the area.

The flu vaccine protects against two strains of influenza Type A virus, including H1N1, which caused pandemic flu in 2009, and one strain of influenza Type B, Bauman said. Most of those sickened so far in Michigan have had Type B, she said. Every year, health experts try to match the formulation of the vaccine to the types of flu they believe are most likely to affect the population.

The seasonal influenza just starting to circulate is different from a type of swine flu virus that sickened a Washtenaw County child in August, Bauman said. That child and another person in the same family caught the virus from a pig, Bauman said. Four other cases were reported in the state. Unlike seasonal flu, that particular strain of flu virus does not spread easily from person to person, she said.

It’s impossible to tell, Bauman said, what the early onset of flu in Michigan this year portends for the season as a whole.

“Flu is unpredictable, she said.

You can read more about influenza and its symptoms on the government's flu website.



Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:50 a.m.

Here are some additional important points to consider. The flu vaccine is available in different forms including prefilled preservative-free syringes, multi-dose vials that do contain a preservative, and a high-dose which is recommended for persons age 65 and older. With each of these options, the virus used in the vaccine is killed, meaning that it should not give you the flu; it's just enough to elicit an immunological response from you body. There is also a live-virus intra-nasal flu vaccine (Flumist), but that may be more difficult to find at a pharmacy. Also, it takes about 10-14 days for the body to respond to the vaccine to produce an immunological response, so there really is no such thing as too early to receive the flu vaccine (they usually are released in August). Knowing this and keeping in mind that most vaccine forms are using the killed viruses, if one develops the flu after receiving the vaccine, the chances are that person had been exposed to the flu virus before the body responded to the vaccine. Third, certain populations are at higher risk of developing complications from the flu, such as people with high blood pressure, diabetes and COPD. Check with your pharmacist or physician regarding if your insurance covers the flu vaccine (most insurances in this area and Medicare do). Finally, no flu vaccine is perfect. They are educated guesses, but they do protect many lives. Good luck to all at avoiding the flu this year.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 3:21 a.m.

All in all, a nice detailing of useful information regarding the influenza vaccine. One clarification on your second point (although you allude to it at the end of your comment), "...if one develops the flu after receiving the vaccine, the chances are that person had been exposed to the flu virus before the body responded to the vaccine." The other possibility (more likely than having been infected before having received the vaccine in some years than in others) is that the prevailing strains of influenza virus infecting the population and the strains from which the vaccine was derived were not well matched. As you said, educated guesses. Finally, antibody responses to vaccines in general are attenuated in people who are chronically sleep-deprived. In addition to optimizing one's immunity against infections in general, adequate sleep is more likely to result in an effective response to the vaccination itself.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

Be aware that the Visiting Nurses do not tell seniors, even at at least one senior center, that they do not have the high dose vaccine recommended by the Center for Disease Control for those over 65 years of age.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

Before commenting, you should be sure of the facts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage about Fluzone High-Dose vaccine specifically states: CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends flu vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu, however, neither CDC nor ACIP is expressing a preference of one vaccine over another at this time. Click the link below to go to the webpage:


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

I know that I am going to get nailed for this by people who believe they should not receive this immunization. Get the shot. Just get the shot.

Bertha Venation

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

I plan on getting the shot, but one of my Operating room nurses told me about the antiviral vitamin L-Lysine. I take it and it really works on cold sores, the common cold, etc. I don't know if it would work on the flu virus, but heck, it can't hurt.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

It might not help either. The flu can be deadly. Get the shot.

G. Orwell

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

Flu shots are useless but can cause severe side effects. Why would anyone want to inject themselves with a foreign substance? Eat nutritious foods, take sufficient supplements and exercise. Strengthen your immune system and you will not get sick.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

For a more rational discussion of the vaccine's effectiveness, see