The University Record, November 5, 2001

Beat the flu bug with a shot: University has plenty of doses

By Kara Gavin
Health System Public Relations

Despite worries elsewhere about delays in flu vaccine shipments, the University and the Health System now have plenty of doses on hand to help faculty, staff and students beat the flu bug. Some public health authorities also are suggesting that flu shots offer peace of mind during the current anthrax scare because flu-like symptoms are a potential indicator of the bacteria.

Nov. 1 marked the start of the period in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges people, especially those over age 50, to get vaccinated. Those at the highest risk for health problems from flu—anyone older than 65 or with a chronic disease or work-related risk—have had several weeks to get priority vaccination.

Michigan’s flu season usually doesn’t start until January, and it only takes a week or two for the vaccine to take effect. So there’s still plenty of time for anyone, at any risk level, to get a shot.

Although the vaccine is not completely effective against all strains of flu and other diseases can cause flu-like symptoms, a flu shot offers safe and inexpensive insurance against most cases. Flu and its complications kill more than 20,000 Americans a year—usually those with underlying illnesses and the elderly.

The Michigan Visiting Nurses, the Health System outpatient clinics, M-Fit Employee Health Program and University Health Service will give flu shots, respectively, at public vaccination events held in local workplaces and stores, through private office visits for current patients, at special on-site sessions requested by Michigan employers and at clinics being held throughout the Ann Arbor campus. The shots are available for a modest fee and may be covered by some forms of insurance, including the M-CARE plans and Medicare Part B.

Here’s how to get your flu vaccination:

To find out about the dozens of public flu vaccination opportunities that the Michigan Visiting Nurses (MVN) will offer at Southeastern Michigan stores and community locations, or to arrange for MVN to offer flu shots at your church, community center, office or store; visit the Web at www.umvn.com; or call (800) 842-5504.

At most of its clinics, MVN also offers pneumonia shots, a vaccination recommended for anyone over age 65 that usually lasts a lifetime but sometimes requires a booster.

To contact M-Fit’s Employee Health Program to arrange a flu vaccination clinic in your workplace, call (734) 975-4463, ext. 267. To find out about the vaccination clinic being held noon–4 p.m. Dec. 1–2 at M-Fit’s location in the Ann Arbor Ice Cube arena, call (734) 998-8700.

Those who are already patients of a U-M physician can arrange to receive a flu shot at their U-M Health Center by calling the appointment line for that location. Phone numbers for U-M Health Centers are on the Web at www2.med.umich.edu/cfusion/healthcenters.

U-M students, faculty and staff can learn more about flu shot opportunities at the Health Service office, and satellite clinic sessions now being scheduled for locations around campus, at www.uhs.umich.edu/uhs/services/flu.html or by calling (734) 764-8320.

All members of the U-M’s M-CARE managed care plans are covered for a flu shot. Call M-CARE Customer Service at (734) 913-2211 with any questions.

For general information on this year’s flu season, including details on risk factors for flu and its complications, go to the CDC’s flu page at www.cdc.gov/nip/Flu/.