Michigan pushes vaccination campaign to stop flu spread 

    A measles vaccination
    India Ampah holds her son, Keon Lockhart, 12 months old, as pediatrician Amanda Porro M.D. administers a measles vaccination during a visit to the Miami Children's Hospital on June 02, 2014 in Miami, Florida. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reminds families to get vaccinated during the flu season through a partnership with the I Vaccinate campaign.

    The I Vaccinate campaign, which began in 2017 under the former Gov. Rick Snyder administration, is a joint public-private effort of the DHHS and the Franny Strong Foundation, a West Bloomfield-based organization that promotes prevention and awareness for public health. 

    “I vaccinate to protect my children, my friends’ children who cannot be vaccinated because they are too young, and our loved ones who cannot receive the vaccine because their immune system is working hard to fight cancer or other illnesses,” said Veronica McNally, founder of the I Vaccinate campaign and the Franny Strong Foundation. “I’m grateful to everyone in our community who also chooses to vaccinate – and applaud those parents who have questions and are seeking out credible answers.”

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    Flu season is recognized by the DHHS as beginning in October and continuing through April, but outbreaks can happen year-round. Flu activity usually peaks in the United States between December and February.

    “The influenza season is hard to predict,” says department spokesperson Lynn Sutfin. “Currently, Michigan is experiencing sporadic activity across the state. However, there are other areas of the U.S. that are seeing heavier activity and there have been two pediatric flu-related deaths already.”

    For the 2018-19 flu season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Project (IHSP) studied flu-related hospitalizations in Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Genesee and Washtenaw counties. Between the five counties, 922 (115 pediatric, 807 adult)  flu-related hospitalizations were reported from Oct. 1 to Apr. 30.

    According to the DHHS, 30% of Michigan adults were vaccinated last flu season. 

    “The best thing people can do to protect themselves from influenza is to get vaccinated,” Suftin said. “They can get the vaccine from their health care provider, local health department or even their pharmacy.” 

    Allison Donahue
    Allison Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.