ANN ARBOR – With the holidays coming up, we are worried about protecting our loved ones from COVID-19. But flu season is also here. Did you get your influenza (flu) shot yet? It’s not too late, but it does take two weeks for the flu vaccine to start working. Influenza is a contagious illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, chills and body aches. Severe flu cases can result in complications leading to hospitalization or death.
With the focus on COVID-19, many people are forgetting about their annual flu shot. If you get a flu shot now while you are healthy, your body can start building ways to fight the flu. Plus, people who have the flu shot and then get the flu, are often not as sick. Flu vaccination rates among African American, Latino and Native American adults are lower than for White adults. Among people with high-risk conditions, flu shot coverage is lower among Black adults (54.9%) and Latino adults (52%) compared to White adults (61.4%).
Doctors recommend flu shots for anyone over six months old, but especially for anyone in the groups below as they have a higher rate of developing the flu’s more serious complications:
-adults over 65 years old
-those with medical conditions like a weakened immune system, diabetes or heart disease
-African Americans, Latinos or Native Americans, who are disproportionately affected by chronic medical conditions
-children younger than five years old, especially those under two years old
Flu shots are also recommended for groups who are more likely to be exposed to the flu such as:
-health care workers
-essential workers such as bus drivers and grocery store clerks
-caregivers and residents in long-term care facilities
Getting a flu shot every year keeps you healthier, as the vaccine helps us build up defenses in our bodies to protect us from the flu. Every year, the flu vaccine is customized to fight the viruses expected to cause this year’s flu. Also, you cannot get the flu from the vaccine because the flu vaccine is not made using live flu viruses. Protecting yourself against the flu also helps to protect your loved ones and others.. When more people get flu shots, it’s harder for the flu to spread in a community. Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years and extensive research supports the safety of seasonal flu vaccines.
Speak to your doctor about getting a flu shot. If you do not have a doctor because you do not have health care coverage, now is the time to apply for 2021 health coverage. Open enrollment on the Health Insurance Marketplace runs now through Tuesday, December 15, 2020. You can apply for health care coverage, including Medicaid, through your local Department of Health and Human Services office, apply online at Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance or call 877-999-6442.
So, roll up your sleeve and get your flu shot as soon as you can. Free flu shots are also available. To find out more and see where to get a flu shot, visit nkfm.org/flu.
This message comes from the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan through a REACH grant from the CDC to remind people how important it is to get a flu shot, especially this year.
REACH is a CDC-administered national program to remove barriers to health improvement caused by race or ethnicity, education, income, location, or other social factors. Through this project, the NKFM encourages everyone to “REACH Your Best Health”. For more information, visit www.reachhealthmi.org
About the NKFM
The mission of the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan is to prevent kidney disease and improve the quality of life for those living with it. The NKFM provides more programs and services to more people in Michigan than any other region or state. For the past 12 years, Charity Navigator — the nation’s leading nonprofit evaluator — has recognized the NKFM with its highest rating of 4 stars for success in sound fiscal management. nkfm.org