Prepare for the Season with a Flu Shot
By Loretta V. Davis, MSA
Sniffling, sneezing, sore throats — yes, cooler temperatures surely mean cold season is upon us. But is the common cold all we have to worry about? Fall is also the onset of flu season. In Michigan last year, the incidence of flu illness started much earlier than in previous years and with a greater impact. Unlike the cold, the flu comes suddenly and can lead to severe illness or death. Thankfully, unlike the common cold, seasonal flu can be prevented with a flu shot.
Catching the flu, also known as influenza, does not just mean missing a few days of school or work. The illness can range from mild fever to pneumonia and bronchitis. For those with chronic diseases, flu may worsen health conditions like chronic congestive heart failure. People with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu. Even more alarming is the chance of life-threatening illness and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates seasonal flu has accounted for between 3,000 to 49,000 deaths per year over the past 31 years. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of flu-related deaths occur in people 65 years and older.
Even as a health professional, I once believed I could stay healthy without a shot and avoid the harmful effects of the flu. And even if I did catch it, it wouldn’t be so bad, right? Wrong. The flu is unpredictable, and its impact is largely out of our control — unless we vaccinate. It was not until a close family member became suddenly ill and near death, that I really understood the importance of the flu shot. Vaccines not only protect the individual, but our communities as well. Each one of us has a responsibility to those closest to us to prevent the flu from spreading.
It is important to get a vaccine before the flu season begins. Once symptoms begin, it is too late to protect ourselves against the infection. If you have children, elderly persons or pregnant women around, it’s especially important to protect them, as they are most susceptible to die from flu-related illness. Everyone over six months of age should get a flu shot. It’s also important to note that the flu shot cannot give you the flu.
Flu shots are available throughout the city. The Institute for Population Health (IPH) offers walk-in flu clinics at our Northend and Northeast locations. No appointment is necessary; just walk right in. We are fully staffed and will get people in and out quickly. Our process makes it easy to get the shot and not have to worry about what could potentially happen without one.
Getting a flu shot is an essential step to preventing serious illness for yourself and those around you. To learn more about flu prevention and flu immunizations, visit the IPH Northend (8904 Woodward Ave., Detroit) or the IPH Northeast (5400 E. Seven Mile Rd., Detroit), call the IPH at 313.324.9482 or visit www.ipophealth.org
Loretta V. Davis is the president and CEO of the Institute for Population Health.