Shiawassee County Health Department

CORUNNA — The Shiawassee County Health Department (SCHD) says the county recently saw a suspected influenza-associated pediatric death.

“It seems like it’s going to be a pretty rough season this year,” SCHD Director Larry Johnson said. “We’re really trying to reach out to our school-age population to encourage kids to get the vaccine if they have not done so already.”

Influenza claims the lives of children every year across the United States, which is why the Shiawassee County Health Department is urging residents to get vaccinated.

Johnson would not identify the person suspected of dying from the flu.

A 15-year-old Morrice girl recently died. Her family stated influenza as the cause of death in her obituary, which appeared in the Argus-Press.

Flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by different strains of the influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe illnesses. Michigan has experienced widespread flu activity over the past few weeks, and SCHD recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine.

It is not too late to get a flu shot, Johnson said; the department is offering walk-in clinics over the next two weeks.

The flu shot is free with most insurance. It’s $30 for adults with no insurance and $10 for children without insurance. However, no one will be turned away if unable to pay.

Upcoming clinics are slated:

n From 8:30 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Friday

n From 8:30 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday

n From 8:30 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 6 p.m. Jan. 16

Those interested in the clinics are asked to bring their ID and insurance card, though those without insurance will not be turned away, according to Johnson.

The vaccine, a health department press release notes, is especially important for persons at increased risk for complications from flu, including children, adults aged 65 years and older, persons of any age with underlying medical conditions, and pregnant women.

Children less than 6 months of age are too young to be vaccinated and need to be protected by vaccination of their close contacts, including parents, siblings, grandparents, child care workers and healthcare personnel.

As of Dec. 28, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that so far this season there have been at least 6.4 million flu illnesses, including 55,000 hospitalizations and 2,900 deaths, including 27 influenza-associated pediatric deaths.

Because of the widespread flu activity, Memorial Healthcare announced Tuesday it is restricting visitors.

People should not visit the hospital if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms: Runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, headache, fever, nausea/vomiting, body aches or diarrhea.

Children under the age of 12 are not permitted to visit the hospital, even if they are not experiencing symptoms.

The flu is spread up to 6 feet away, hospital officials said in a press release.

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