State tracking flu as season starts to ramp up

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Health officials are reminding people to get vaccinated as we get deeper into flu season.

The most recent Michigan Department of Health and Human Services report on flu-associated illnesses said 172 people were hospitalized between Oct. 1 and Dec. 28. That number is similar to figures at the same point of the 2014-2015 and 2017-2018 seasons.

MDHHS says influenza is widespread across much of the nation and flu-like illnesses have been above or at baseline rates for weeks. Twenty-seven influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported this season. None of them were in Michigan.

In a recent survey, the state found 44% of adults have been vaccinated against influenza for the 2019-2020 flu season, but 37% have no plans to get vaccinated.

If you’re suffering from fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache or general fatigue, be sure to see a doctor. And if you haven’t already, it’s not too late to get vaccinated.

“The flu shot every year is about 60% effective,” Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital pediatric hospitalist Dr. Dan McGee told News 8. “Not getting the flu shot is 0% effective.”

To help prevent the spread of the flu, local hospitals have started implementing some restrictions for visitors.

At Ascension Michigan hospitals — which include Borgess in Kalamazoo, Borgess-Lee in Dowagiac and Borgess-Pipp in Plainwell — Visitors must be at least 14 and free of fever, coughs, colds or stomach virus symptoms. The number of visitors will be limited to two at a time per patient and they will be required to wash their hands.

At Bronson Healthcare hospitals, visitors must be at least 15. The number of visitors is being limited in emergency departments, the BirthPlace and neonatal intensive care.

Spectrum Health hasn’t issued any restrictions, but is asking all visitors to be healthy and has posted signs to that effect at hospital entryways.

For more information on this year’s flu totals, you can check out the MDHHS’s weekly reports on its website.

—News 8’s Lynsey Mukomel contributed to this report.

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