Flu season appears in West Michigan; doctors urge flu shot

Posted at 4:33 PM, Jan 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-12 14:52:41-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. --  Doctors in West Michigan are asking people to do what they can to protect themselves from the influenza viruses.

"It’s something we have to worry about in West Michigan, as well as every part of the state," said Dr. Dan McGee with Spectrum Health.

Dr. McGee said influenza is currently affecting people across West Michigan and the flu season hasn't even peaked yet.

He said children and the elderly are most at risk, but there is still time to prevent further spread. Dr. McGee said people can still get flu shots, and children as young as six months old can get vaccinated for protection.

“107 children died from influenza last year," said Dr. McGee. "This year so far in Michigan, three children have died from influenza."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number one way to prevent getting the flu is to get vaccinated.  Second, don't go to work sick.

"Stay home if you're sick," said Dr. McGee. "Don’t go to work and cough and sneeze on other people and number three, wash your hands.”

The CDC reports the flu vaccine is about 60% effective this year. In most cases, the flu will go away on its own, but there is medication that can help called Tamiflu.

"The important thing is, you need to get that medication within the first 48 hours of symptoms," said Dr. McGee. "It has been shown the virus does respond well to that medicine."

While some people may be concerned about the changing weather in West Michigan playing a role in getting sick, Mr. McGee said there is no real impact. He said it's only cold weather that can be connected to more illnesses.

"Because we’re all inside with windows closed, sneezing and coughing on each other instead of being outside, windows open or being further apart from one another," said Dr. McGee.

For more information on influenza, visit the CDC's website here.