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Friday, September 23, 2011 - Residents Reminded It's Time to Get Vaccinated for Flu Season
Residents Reminded It’s Time to Get Vaccinated for Flu Season
Health care experts encourage area citizens to protect themselves, loved ones
 
Munson Healthcare today reminded area residents to prepare themselves for flu season by getting a flu vaccination at a local doctor’s office or a participating pharmacy. Influenza annually, on average, causes 150,000 hospitalizations and claims the lives of 24,000 people in the United States.
 
“With a national mortality figure equivalent to the population of the greater Traverse City area, this is not to be taken lightly,” Karen Speirs, D.O., section chief of Infectious Disease at Munson Medical Center. “Many of these deaths and influenza-caused serious illnesses can be prevented through a simple vaccination.”
 
The 2011-12 flu vaccine will provide protection against three types of influenza: A H3N2 virus, influenza B virus, and the H1N1 virus that emerged in 2009 causing a pandemic. Munson Healthcare this year is on the leading edge of flu prevention nationally, joining several other hospitals across the state in a mandatory flu vaccination for all employees within the health system.
 
“The flu vaccine is given to millions of people each flu season without any problem and vaccine safety is closely tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Federal Drug Administration,” said Michael Collins, M.D., Grand Traverse Health Department Medical Director. “People should understand that getting a vaccination could save their life, or the lives of those they love.”
 
Dr. Collins advises everyone 6 months of age and older to get a flu shot. People who are at high risk for the flu include:
 • Young children;
 • Pregnant women;
 • People with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and;
 • Senior citizens or people 65 years and older.
 
“Vaccination also is important for people who live with, or care for, those individuals classified as high risk for the flu,” Dr. Collins said. “Children younger than 6 months are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for them should be vaccinated instead.”
 
Area residents are encouraged to check with their physician’s office for availability of the flu vaccine. Some area retailers also offer the vaccinations. Flu clinics are planned this fall at the Grand Traverse Health Department, for more information call (231) 922-4831.
 
In addition, Munson Urgent Care will also offer the vaccine on Friday Sept. 30 from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.; Wednesday Oct. 5 from 3 p.m. - 6 p.m.; Sunday Oct. 9 from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.; and Saturday Oct. 29 from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. The cost for flu shot is $45. Munson Urgent Care will bill insurance if the shot is a covered benefit. Patients who are seen at Munson Urgent Care can have their flu shot at any visit. Children between ages 6-35 months receive a series of 2 shots for their first vaccine. Limited pediatric vaccine is available. Please call in advance. Flu mist nasal vaccinations are not available this year.
 
Munson Urgent Care is located at Munson Community Health Center, 550 Munson Ave. in Traverse City. For more information, call (231) 935-8686 and press 8.