Flu on the rise in West Michigan

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says while it’s not quite as severe as last year, flu cases are on the rise.

If you get it, you’ll know it.

“Cough and sore throat. Headache, body aches and fever, really high fever. And just getting knocked out,” said Brian Hartl, the epidemiology supervisor at the Kent County Health Department.

The numbers have yet to peak in Michigan. But health officials say it’s just a matter of time. 

“Right now, we’re seeing an increase in the number of cases of the flu that we’re receiving from physicians, we’re seeing an increase in the number of people going to the emergency departments for flu-like illness,” Hartl said. “So, if defiantly here.”

You can avoid the flu by doing thing like staying clear of coughing coworkers, cleaning your keyboard and of course, washing your hands.

But experts say the best way to avoid the flu is get the flu shot.

>>Online: HealthMap Vaccine Finder

“Most of the strains that have been characterized by the state laboratories have shown that they are a good match to the vaccine strains,” Hartl said. “So that vaccine is going to be your best measure of protection against this year’s flu.”

But chances are, you or someone you know just doesn’t get the shot. Some people are convinced the shot itself may make them sick, or that they just don’t work.

During the 2017-2018 flu season, 38.2 percent of Kent County residents 6 months or older got the shot. 

For children ages 6 months to 17 years, that number was 39.6 percent and for adults 18 and older, 37.7 percent got vaccinated.

While children are among the most susceptible, statewide numbers show less than 30 percent of children ages 6 months through 8 years received the recommended dosage.

So far, the most prevalent strain of influenza has been H1N1. And while it’s a nasty strain that’s wreaked havoc in the past, the current vaccine appears to be effective.

“That’s part of the vaccine,” Hartl said. “So typically in those seasons where we see more H1N1 virus, we see a lesser amount of flu in the community.”

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