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As flu cases rise across Michigan, Oakland County health officials are calling on residents to get vaccinated.

“I strongly urge everyone who is able to get a flu shot to protect themselves and those around them,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for the Oakland County Health Division, in a statement Thursday. “Getting an annual flu shot decreases the risk of getting the flu. It also helps decrease severity of the illness, complications, and protects the entire community, especially those who are unable to get a flu shot.”

Between Oct. 1 and Jan. 18, Oakland County has had more than 1,705 confirmed flu cases, health officials said.

Last month, the Associated Press reported flu was widespread in every state except Hawaii, and 39 states reported high flu traffic for doctors.

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Bureau of Laboratories reported 81 new positive influenza cases in an analysis dated Jan. 20. Some 535 influenza-related hospitalizations reported since Oct. 1, the report found.

The flu can occur suddenly and cause mild to severe illness and sometimes lead to death, Oakland health officials said. It can be spread to others from as far as 6 feet away, mainly through droplets made when infected people cough, sneeze or talk.

Symptoms can include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.

To guard against the illness, the Oakland health division recommends everyone older than 6 months receive an influenza vaccination and take preventive actions such as frequent hand-washing your hands often with soap and water.

“Those who live, work or interact with higher-risk populations are recommended to get the flu vaccine to protect those who are more at risk,” county health leaders wrote Thursday. “This year’s vaccine protects against Type A H1N1, H3N2, and two Type B strains which are most likely to occur this season.”

Flu shots are available at health division offices in Pontiac and Southfield from noon – 8 p.m. Mondays and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.

Flu shots cost $25. The high-dose flu shot recommended for those 65 years and older is $47 and covered by Medicare.

For information, go to www.oakgov.com/health or call the Health Division’s Flu Shot Hotline at (800) 434-3358. A nurse on call also is available at (800) 848-5533.

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