Flu reaches epidemic levels

Flu season is ramping up. Luckily there’s still time to get vaccinated in Michigan. But do it soon.
The flu hasn't reached epidemic levels in Michigan just yet, although it has spread in other states, so there's still time for vaccinations. (For Spectrum Health Beat)
The flu hasn’t reached epidemic levels in Michigan just yet, although it has spread in other states, so there’s still time for vaccinations. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Flu season hasn’t hit Michigan hard yet, but it’s coming.

That’s the word from Daniel McGee, MD, a hospitalist with Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

The influenza virus has reached epidemic levels in other states, Dr. McGee said, explaining that outbreaks here are popping up regionally, not statewide.

“Kid-wise, we’re not seeing a ton of it in the children’s hospital yet, which may mean that people are getting their flu shots,” he said. RSV is more common at the children’s hospital right now, he added.

For kids and adults who haven’t had a flu shot this season, it’s not too late.

“The good news is there’s still time to get a flu shot. But get it soon, because it takes two weeks to take effect,” Dr. McGee said.

And there’s more good news: This year’s flu vaccine is a good match for the strain of virus that’s prevalent in the community right now, type A.

The bad news is you have to get a shot.

“You can’t get the vaccine by nose this year,” the doctor said. The nasal mist hasn’t worked well the past couple of years, so it’s not available this season.

If you do get the flu, call your doctor right away, Dr. McGee said, because the medication Tamiflu can treat it—but you have to start taking it early in the course of the illness.

Flu symptoms include fever, coughing, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. Symptoms generally last five to seven days.

Bottom line? Get your flu shot—it’s really the best thing you can do to prevent the illness.

For more information about the developing flu season in West Michigan, see Dr. Daniel McGee’s interview on WZZM. To find a flu clinic near you, use the Flu Vaccine Finder—a blue box on this page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you think you have the flu, get seen today with a MedNow appointment. To arrange a video visit, call 1.844.322.7374.

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