DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s hands on deck at Detroit area hospitals in the thick of what’s being called the most severe flu season in recent years.

This includes Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, which on Tuesday was dealing with an influx of patients who are sick with the flu. According to a spokeswoman, the hospital is currently “operating at maximum capacity” as some patients who have a more severe form of the flu are being admitted.

“Like other hospitals in the region, Henry Ford Hospital is experiencing higher than normal patient volumes in the Emergency Department due to flu and other illnesses,” HFHS’s Tammy Battaglia said. “This is not unusual for this time of year. We are following normal protocols to address the influx of patients.”

Is any of this cause for alarm? WWJ’s Dr. Deanna Lites asked Dr. Pamela Hackertt, medical director for Oakland County Health Division.

“It (the flu) is widespread,” said Dr. Pamela Hackert, medical director for Oakland County Health Division. “It seems to be coming a bit earlier and a bit stronger than historically, but it is actually very much on target with what we saw two years ago when it was a very severe flu season.”

Hackert stressed that the best way to protect yourself from the flu is with a flu shot, and it’s not too late to get your vaccination.

While there were initial concerns that the vaccine wasn’t effective against circulating strains of the flu, Hackert said that’s not the case. “The strain that is now being laboratory confirmed in Michigan is a pretty good match,” she told Lites.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu shot.

Additionally, people can prevent transmission of the flu virus by taking the following precautions:

• Staying home from work when sick
• Keeping sick children home from school
• Washing hands often
• Covering coughs and sneezes
• Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces

The flu vaccine is typically available at your family doctor’s office and is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most other health insurance providers. Michiganders can get a walk-in vaccine at a CVS Pharmacy Minute Clinic , or at a Kroger Pharmacy or Meijer Pharmacy near you. [Find out where else you can get a flu shot].

Get more information about the flu from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at this link.

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