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With the flu spreading across Michigan, Henry Ford Health System has implemented temporary visitor restrictions at five hospitals, officials say, joining other Metro Detroit medical facilities.

Children 12 and younger are not permitted in the hospitals, nor are patients who have flu-like symptoms.

The visitor restrictions went into effect Friday at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Macomb, West Bloomfield, Wyandotte and Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson.

The Detroit Medical Center also put visitor restrictions in place Dec. 4 to minimize the spread of influenza. Only two visitors above the age of 12 at a time are allowed to visit DMC facilities including Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit Receiving Hospital, Harper University Hospital, Heart Hospital, Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, Hutzel Women's Hospital, Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan and Sinai-Grace Hospital.

Anyone who has scheduled appointments or procedures should wear a mask and wash hands often. Visitors who have flu-like symptoms are asked not to visit a hospitalized patient, family member or friend.

"Flu activity is already at regional levels in Michigan and likely to worsen in the coming weeks," says Dr. Betty Chu, Henry Ford’s associate chief clinical officer. "This is a preemptive measure we take every year to help minimize the spread of flu illness and to protect the health of our patients, families who come to visit their loved ones and our team members. A decision to lift the restrictions will be made at a later point based on flu activity."

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says there is a rise in confirmed flu cases in Metro Detroit. Out of 11,103 office visits during the first week of December, 131 patients were confirmed with the flu. 

Between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, the federal Centers for Disease Control estimates 1.7 million to 2.5 million people in the U.S. have had the flu, with nearly 1.2 million flu-related medical visits, 29,000 flu hospitalizations and 2,400 deaths due to the flu.

Chu reminds people that it’s not too late to get a flu shot.

"The flu shot is the best way to protect people against the flu," she said. "We encourage anyone older than 6 months of age to receive the flu shot. We have plenty of vaccines available across our health system for those who haven’t yet receive their flu shot."

The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago revealed results from a nationally representative poll on influenza vaccination opinions and the results were worrying, Michigan state health officials said.

The survey results revealed that 44% of adults have been vaccinated against influenza for the 2019-20 flu season, but 37% have no plans to get vaccinated.

"The top reasons survey participants indicated for not receiving a flu vaccine include concerns about vaccine side effects, beliefs that the vaccine does not work very well, and beliefs that they never get sick with the flu," according to the Michigan health department website.

Flu-like symptoms come on suddenly and include fever, extreme tiredness, headache, muscle aches, cough and sore throat.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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