With flu season around the corner, health officials urge vaccination – MLive.com

Cooler weather means longer sleeves, but public health officials say it’s also a sign residents should be rolling up their sleeves to get the annual flu vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone 6 months and older be vaccinated for the upcoming flu season and recommends that vaccines be received annually against influenza.

Washtenaw County Public Health spokeswoman Susan Cerniglia said the Ann Arbor area has traditionally had very high rates of flu immunization, especially among children.

“We ranked first in the state in terms of the percentage of kids who were immunized last year,” she said. “And this past flu season we did not see a lot of hospitalizations among kids. That could be thanks in part to our high rate of coverage.”

Children younger than 9 years old may require two doses of the season’s vaccine. The CDC also recommends that families and caregivers of children younger than 6 months all make sure to get their flu shots to help provide some measure of protection for the child.

According to the CDC, the timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary in different parts of the country and from season to season. Most seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May and flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.

Last season’s flu vaccine was criticized for not being as effective as the shot had been in years past, and Cerniglia said it is yet to be seen how effective this year’s version of the shot will be.

“The vaccines are already being made so they’ve determined which flu strains are in the vaccine,” she said. “But until things start circulating we won’t know exactly how good the match is.”

Even if the flu strains don’t line up perfectly with what’s circulating, getting the inoculation can still provide some protection throughout flu season. Health officials recommend receiving the vaccine as early as possible, because it takes the body approximately two weeks to develop immunity after the shot.

Vaccination is particularly important for high-risk groups, including children, those 50 and older, pregnant women, and anyone with an underlying medical condition that can weaken the immune system. The CDC recommends flu shots be received annually.

“People should get the shots wherever is convenient for them, as they’ll be widely available again this year,” Cerniglia said. “It could be at a pharmacy, at a provider, at a pop-up clinic, just make sure you get it.”

The University of Michigan Health System’s Michigan Visiting Nurses will be offering walk-in clinics open to the public at a number of locations around the county. U-M will have quadrivalent vaccine doses which protect against four different strains of influenza and a high-dose vaccine is available for persons 65 years of age and older:

  • 9/18/2015 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM at the Ypsilanti Township Senior Center, Ages 9+
  • 9/22/2015 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at the Ypsilanti Senior Center, Ages 9+
  • 9/23/2015 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Ann Arbor City Club, Ages 9+
  • 9/24/2015 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Hartland Senior Center, Ages 9+
  • 9/26/2015 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM at St. Andrew the Apostle Church – Saline, Ages 9+
  • 9/27/2015 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM at St. Andrew the Apostle Church – Saline, Ages 9+
  • 9/27/2015 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at St. Joseph Shrine [Family Center], Ages 9+
  • 9/27/2015 11:15 AM – 12:30 PM at the Plymouth First United Methodist Church, Ages 9+
  • 9/30/2015 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Pittsfield Township Senior Center, Ages 9+
  • 10/3/2015 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at MedEquip, 2705 S. Industrial, Ann Arbor, Ages 9+
  • 10/4/2015 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at First United Methodist Church – Ann Arbor, Ages 9+
  • 10/5/2015 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at the Adrian Senior Center, Ages 9+
  • 10/7/2015 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM at the Turner Senior Resource Center, Ages 18+
  • 10/8/2015 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at the Chelsea Wellness Center, Ages 9+
  • 10/9/2015 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at the Saline Area Senior Center, Ages 9+
  • 10/10/2015 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM at Wiard’s Orchard, Ages 9+
  • 10/11/2015 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM at the Dexter United Methodist Church, Age 18+
  • 10/11/2015 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM at Wiard’s Orchard, Ages 9+
  • 10/14/2015 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM at the Ann Arbor YMCA, Ages 9+
  • 10/14/2015 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM at the Zion Lutheran Church – Ann Arbor, Ages 9+
  • 10/16/2015 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM at the Northfield Township Community Center, Ages 9+
  • 10/16/2015 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Hamburg Senior Center, Age 18+
  • 10/18/2015 8:30 AM – 11:00 AM at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church – Ann Arbor, Ages 9+
  • 10/18/2015 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM at Belleville First United Methodist Church, Ages 9+
  • 10/22/2015 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM at the Dexter Wellness Center, Ages 9+
  • 10/24/2015 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at MedEquip, 2705 S. Industrial, Ann Arbor, Ages 9+
  • 10/30/2015 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM at the Addison Senior Center, Age 18+
  • 11/5/2015 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM at St. Francis School and Parish, Ages 9+
  • 11/14/2015 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM at MedEquip, 2705 S. Industrial, Ann Arbor, Ages 9+
  • 11/21/2015 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM MedEquip, 2705 S. Industrial, Ann Arbor, Ages 9+

Ben Freed is a general assignments reporter for The Ann Arbor News. Email him at benfreed@mlive.com and follow him on twitter at @BFreedinA2. He also answers the phone at 734-623-2528.