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Love It or Hate It? Flu Shots Now Available in Livingston County

Livingston County Health Department Medical Director urges everyone six months and older to get vaccinated this season.

It's that time of year again - flu season is back, and with it the ongoing debate on whether to get the flu shot.

Flu season in the U.S. can begin as early as October and last as late as May, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Patch readers commenting on Brighton and Hartland Facebook pages were either all for or adamantly against getting flu shots.

Rachelle Karinen Stawiarski commented on Brighton Patch's page, "Not a believer that they are good for us, or for public health! Too much over-immunization."

Rachelle Mccrum had the same opinion on Hartland Patch's Facebook.

"Just another way that the media causes people to panic so that big drug companies can profit," Mccrum wrote. "They mandated us to get one last year at work saying we were a health threat to our sick patients if we didn't. What a joke! I had more chest colds last winter than I have ever had before!"

However, the vaccination is necessary for some people.

"I've always gotten one every year," Jesse Richardson wrote. "I had a double lung transplant two years ago, so my immune system is very low due to the anti-rejection medications. I'd be screwed if I got the flu."

People like Richardson who have suppressed immune systems are among those who are at greatest risk for getting the flu, according to Donald Lawrenchuk, medical director of the Livingston County Department of Public Health.

The very young, elderly, pregnant women and those with other chronic health health problems that suppress the immune system such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes and cancer are also at risk.

Lawrenchuk said since the vaccine is pretty much universal, everyone six months and older should get the flu shot, the sooner the better.

"When we look at all the leading causes of mortality in Livingston County, even across the rest of the state and across the country, influenza is the only vaccine preventable disease that is still in the top ten leading causes of death in our society," Lawrenchuk said. "It's certainly nothing to take lightly.

The CDC estimates that between 20,000 and 30,000 people die each year from the flu and its complications.

Because the virus changes every year, so does the vaccine. This year, the vaccine protects against three different influenza viruses that are expected to be the most prevalent this season.

"The CDC has been very, very accurate in predicting which strains are going to cause the greatest morbidity and mortality every year," Lawrenchuk said. "So those are the strains being protected in this year's vaccine, which is different from last year's vaccine and all of the previous years as well."

There is even a Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved nasal spray flu vaccine option for children and those who do not like needles. Although the spray has more side effects than the shot.

The flu shot is available at the Livingston County Department of Publich Health, which is located at 2300 East Grand River Ave. in Howell. While they accept walk-ins, Lawrenchuk recommends calling the health department at 517-546-9850 to ensure you will be seen.

Vaccinations are also available through physician's offices as well as through local pharmacies. For a complete list of locations, visit flushot.healthmap.org.

What do you think about the flu shot? Will you get vaccinated this year?

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