Michiana may not have seen the worst of flu season yet

Flu-related deaths are on the rise in Indiana, bringing the statewide total to 15. Doctors can't pinpoint exactly why this season has been so severe, but one here in Michiana says fewer flu shots are partially to blame.

In Michiana, the most common strain is Influenza A, different from what's been prominent nationwide. According to the Center for Disease Control, across the country, it's been H3N2, which may be a factor in the rise of flu-related deaths.

The flu, or Influenza, is an airborne virus but can also be contracted by contact. One local doctor says it's easy to confuse the common cold with the flu, but the biggest difference between the two is a compilation of multiple symptoms like coughing, sneezing, body aches, high fevers and congestion.

There's no sure fire way to tell what you have at home, so it's best to contact a physician if you feel any combination.

"I think a part of it is not as many people have gotten their flu vaccines early this year, we started offering them here in the office in september. We didn't see as many takers in september but now we have a ton of people flooding into the office," said Dr. Charisse Johnson of the Navarre Pediatric Group.

Dr. Johnson also says it's not too late to get a flu shot.

The St. Joseph County Health Department is offering FREE Flu-Mist (nasal spray) vaccine for school-aged children with no history of chronic disease. The vaccine will be available at the South Bend Clinic only, from Monday, January 14 through Friday, January 18. No appointment is necessary. The South Bend Clinic location (227 W. Jefferson Blvd, County-City Building, 9th Floor) is open from 8:00-11:30 a.m. & 1:00-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

St. Joseph County Health Department Health Officer, Dr. Thomas A. Felger, is urging all county residents to be vaccinated against this year’s flu virus. Children are one of the most at-risk groups for flu complications. Injectable flu vaccine is also available for those who do not qualify for free vaccine for $25 cash, credit card, or Medicare Part B. It is not too late to receive your flu vaccine!

For more information on the flu and the vaccine, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/flu or follow the St. Joseph County Health Department on Facebook (www.facebook.com/stjosephcountyhealth)

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