It’s only February, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43 states have reported widespread flu activity and influenza-like illness. During the 2016-2017 flu season, only 44.2 percent of Michigan residents were vaccinated against the flu. That puts Michigan in 33rd place in the country according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
In DeWitt, The Hometown Pharmacy along with the Sparrow Medical Center are trying to educate the community on the flu and the importance of getting vaccinated.
Kaitlyn Smith, the head pharmacist at Hometown Pharmacy, has seen more people come in for flu shots than have actual cases of the flu. She believes the process, which is free of cost and only takes a few minutes, to be a game changer in fighting the flu and keeping you healthy.
“I always encourage that people get the flu shot, even though some say it may not be effective,” Smith said. “A lot of people are worried that they will get the flu if they do get the flu shot but I try to ensure them that it is very unlikely for them to be infected.”
The Sparrow Medical Group in DeWitt is another resource for the community to turn to when dealing with the flu. Sparrow helps test and treat the flu and its symptoms.
While Laura White, who is a nurse at Sparrow, hears from people who decline to get a flu shot because they either are not educated or thinks it does not help stoping the flu, she believes the research speaks for itself.
“The research shows us the the flu shot does help decrease, if not eliminate getting the flu, it decreases the symptoms you might have,” Smith said.
White says DeWitt is a region that has a high rate of declination. This means by law people can deny the flu vaccine for themselves, and parents for their children.
“Some people may not be educated to know, or they have their opinion. Everyone has their own experience,” White said. “We do know that if everyone around you has be immunized, your chance of contracting the flu is lower. But if everyone stops getting the vaccine, that’s where it gets bad.”
D.D. Yarber, a DeWitt resident, has always gotten the flu shot, she knows the importance of keeping herself and her family healthy. However for Yarber, the flu shot has not always gotten the job done.
“I have always been encouraged to get the flu shot, and in the past when I have it has made me sicker,” Yarber said. “I would become light headed and throw up. The doctors would provide me with prescriptions to treat me. Since then I have turned to other treatments to fight the flu.”
Yarber said she believes it doesn’t matter how you are treated as long as you and the ones around you are as well.
“Unfortunately the flu is something that we all have to face. If we protect ourselves and our children, we can go on living our lives keeping our community healthy and a better place to live,” Yarber said.