LANSING, Mich. — The state is rolling out a campaign to increase the number Michiganders who get the flu vaccination and help prevent a flu outbreak amid COVID-19.
The "Facing the flu" campaign by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) was announced at a news conference today by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.
Whitmer said "flu season is right around the corner" and preventing the flu will help the state save lives and preserve health care resources as it also fights COVID-19.
"Imagine if we had a major flu outbreak on top of the surge that we experienced in Mach and April of this year," Whitmer said.
Thousands more people would need to be hospitalized, she said.
Whitmer said "as many Michiganders as possible should get vaccinated for flu," especially students, educators and staff engaged in face-to-face instruction.
Last year, over 3.2 million Michiganders received the flu vaccine. This year, the state wants to see a 33% increase in flu vaccinations, so 4.3 million Michiganders get the vaccine.
Khaldun said about 31% of Michiganders six months and older revived the flu vaccine last year. And in 2018, the state ranked 38th in flu vaccinations.
Michiganders can get a flu shot at various places, such as health care clinics, their doctor's office, pharmacies and some schools and workplaces.
People can find out where to get a flu shot by visiting flu.gov.
"And it's so simple, that I am going to get my flu shot right here at this press conference," Whitmer said.
In the U.S. last year, 39 million to 56 million people had the flu and up to 62,000 people died, including 157 children, according to Khaldun.
Khaldun stressed that the flu vaccine "does not cause the flu," and if someone with the vaccine gets the flu, "it is often less severe."
Whitmer added that Michiganders need to prevent the spread of both the flu and COVID 19 by wearing a mask and practicing six-foot social distancing.
She said COVID-19 is "still a very real threat" to residents, front-line workers and the economy.
"Until there is a coronavirus vaccine, we must do everything we can in our power to protect one other," Whitmer said. "Nobody is immune to this virus."
Khaldun also said that with COVID-19 and the flu circulating, people with flu symptoms will need to stay out of work and school.