Influenza shot still worth the effort

Four months left in flu season, CMU’s University Health Services medical director says
Flu shots

University Health Services at Central Michigan University has administered all 900 of the influenza vaccines it ordered, but it’s not too late to find and benefit from the shot, said Dr. Michael Deaton, medical director of UHS.

“People remain at increased risk for getting the flu for the next four months,” Deaton said. “Severe influenza usually affects the very young and the very old. However, one of the strains currently in the U.S. predominantly affects children and young adults. Everyone is at risk.”

Nationally, 35 states have widespread influenza activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported. A new report from the CDC estimates that the influenza vaccine prevented 79,000 hospitalizations and 6.6 million illnesses in the 2012-13 flu season.

A flu shot takes approximately two weeks to become effective, and no shot provides 100 percent protection. The flu shot does reduce the risk of becoming infected. The flu most often is transmitted through person-to-person contact, and a person can be contagious before they know they are ill, Deaton said.

Proper hygiene plays an enormous role in reducing risk. Deaton’s tips:

  • Wash your hands regularly, and wash long enough to sing an entire verse of “Happy Birthday;”
  • Stay home; and
  • Cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow rather than your hand.

Deaton says even though University Health Services has administered its order of the vaccine, flu shots are available at the Central Michigan District Health Department. Patients can call 989-773-5921 to schedule an appointment.