By Celeste Bott
Clinton Chronicle Staff Writer
It’s already starting to feel like spring, but Clinton County residents are being reminded that flu season isn’t over just yet.
The Mid-Michigan District Health Department is encouraging members of Clinton, Gratiot, and Montcalm counties to stay on top of their health. Their current mantra—“get a shot and not the flu!”—is just one way to persuade members of the community to seek protection from vaccine preventable diseases.
The 2011-2012 flu vaccine protects against three different types of flu viruses: H3N2, influenza B and H1N1. According to Leslie Kinnee, public information officer for the Mid-Michigan District Health Department, it is effective throughout the entire flu season, which can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
So even if the groundhog did not see his shadow this February, individuals who have not gotten flu shots are still at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average between 5 and 20 percent of the population will contract at least one flu virus in a year.
Vaccinations are often associated with children and infants, but Dr. Robert Graham, medical director for the Mid-Michigan District Health Department, urges adults to take the steps to get vaccinated. Not doing so, he says, puts both themselves and their families at risk.
“The flu should not be taken lightly,” he said. “One person infected with the flu can potentially infect up to 15 others. The best way to prevent influenza and its potentially life-threatening complications is for everyone, including healthy people, age six months and older, to get vaccinated.”
He went on to say that vaccination was especially important for the elderly, young children, and those who already suffer chronic health conditions, because they are at high risk of developing serious flu complications.
Adult vaccinations are also being encouraged by the Mid-Michigan Health Department to protect citizens from illnesses such as whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory disease that can be fatal for many infants. There are also vaccinations available to prevent measles, and teenagers in particular are encouraged to receive booster doses of meningococcal, or meningitis vaccine.
“Most adults don’t realize how important it is that they continue to get vaccinated against serious diseases, and that it’s a lifelong process,” said Dr. Graham.
The Mid-Michigan District Health Department believes the influenza vaccination is a good place to start.
Residents of Clinton County can get flu shots every Monday at the Mid-Michigan District Health Department in St. Johns, from 9 a.m. to noon, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. It is not necessary to make an appointment.
The cost of a flu vaccination is $30. Medicaid and Medicare are accepted. For more information or to see if the Mid-Michigan District Health Department participates with your insurance company, visit www.mmdhd.org or call (989) 224-2195.