Flu declared widespread, triggering precautions in health facilities

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Nationally, there have been six influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported during the 2018-2019 flu season; and while there's only been localized flu activity across MI in the past few weeks, the health department "strongly recommends" that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced the death of a child from Osceola County who had with influenza A/H1N1. So far, the MDHHS says MI has only experienced localized flu activity but still advises anyone older than six months get a flu vaccine.

Public health authorities say flu typically peaks in February, and that it's not too late to get a flu vaccine, though it normally takes two weeks for the full immunization protection to take effect. Two people have been hospitalized in Erie County with flu complications and there have been no flu-related deaths. About 80,000 people died of the flu during the 2017-18 flu season.

This week the CDC also recorded the seventh pediatric flu death of the season; the patient had an influenza A virus that was not subtyped.

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Flu activity in MI is still in the "localized" stage so far.

People under the age of 45 were the least likely to report being vaccinated. "I'd love to see us get the vaccine rate over 75 percent", he added. Last year, which was a severe flu season, about 50 percent of those who were vaccinated did get the flu. Most of the cases of the flu have been the H1N1 virus.

In the US, antiviral medications and various flu vaccines are available in most pharmacies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last year's flu season was estimated to be the deadliest since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Those at high-risk for complications include patients 65 and older, people with chronic medical issues, pregnant women and children younger than 5.

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