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A 69-year-old man has become the first death of the flu season in Oakland County, officials said Thursday. 

The flu season began Oct. 1. 

“Vaccination is the most effective protection against the flu,” Dr. Russell Faust, medical director for Oakland County, said in a statement. “Don’t wait to get the flu shot. Contact your doctor or nearest pharmacy for flu vaccine availability.”

So far, there have been fewer reports of flu compared with previous years at this time.

A total of 127 patients visited the hospital due to the flu out of 13,986 office visits in the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported in the last week of October.

The Oakland County Health Division recommends everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu shot and take preventive actions, such as washing their hands with soap and water often. It also recommends using antibacterial alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Those who are at a higher risk of flu complications include children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. These high-risk individuals and those who live or care for them should especially get vaccinated.

The flu virus can be spread to others as far as six feet away through droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Less often, a person may get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own eyes, nose or mouth.

The flu usually occurs suddenly and can cause mild to severe illness and sometimes lead to death. Symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

Contact the Oakland County Health Division’s Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 to check on flu vaccine availability before coming to the health division. Flu shots may also be available through your physician and at select pharmacies.

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