Continuing Care

Spectrum Health is Ready for Flu Season

Flu Vaccine Available Throughout Community

Spectrum Health wants you and your family to avoid the flu this year.

The Spectrum Health Continuing Care Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) has begun distributing the flu vaccine at clinics throughout the community. The current schedule of flu clinics is posted at or is available by calling 616.486.3939.

Starting September 26, the vaccine also will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week at Spectrum Health Urgent Care locations in Grand Rapids. Locations can be found at

Current patients have the option of making an appointment with their Spectrum Health Medical Group provider to receive the vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone older than six months be vaccinated for the flu.

“There really is no reason to hesitate about getting a flu shot,” said David J. Dobbie, MD, infectious disease specialist, Spectrum Health Medical Group. “We know the vaccination works and potentially saves thousands of lives each year. It’s something everyone should consider before flu becomes widespread. Flu shots are particularly important for pregnant women and people with chronic medical problems. Immunization of healthy people helps stop the spread of flu to others.”

The cost of this year’s flu vaccine shot is $30 at both VNA clinics and Urgent Care locations. VNA also offers a flu mist nasal inhaler as an alternative to the shot for $35 for people under 50 years old. Preservative-free flu shots are available through VNA by calling 616.486.3939 to schedule an appointment. Pneumonia injections also are available for $65. All locations can bill a number of insurance programs, many of which cover some or all of the cost of the vaccine.

If you do get the flu, there are things you should do to keep from spreading the illness.

The CDC recommends that individuals stay home while sick and for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone. The fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine. If a person must go out in public while sick, they should wear a facemask if possible, wash their hands to keep from spreading germs and cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or cloth (not their hands).

“Most symptoms can and should be treated at home. Only the most severe illnesses require a visit to an Urgent Care location or emergency department,” Dobbie added. “It will take anywhere from five to 10 days for the illness to run its course. For most people who contract the flu, they should try to stay home, rest, drink plenty of liquids and take acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory medicine.”

To avoid getting the flu, Spectrum Health recommends:
• Get your seasonal flu shot. Visit for a list of clinics.
• Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
• Avoid contact with people who have flu-like symptoms.
• Get plenty of rest.
• Eat a healthy, balanced diet.

Symptoms include:
• Cough
• Sore throat
• Fever (sometimes) – a temperature greater than 100° F or 37.8° C
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Headache
• Chills
• Fatigue
• Diarrhea (sometimes)
• Vomiting (sometimes)

Individuals experiencing these symptoms who become concerned about their illness should call their primary care physician for advice. Urgent Care locations and emergency departments should be used only for people experiencing the following:

In children:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Not waking up or not interacting
• So irritable the child doesn’t even want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Fever with a rash

In adults:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or stomach
• Sudden dizziness
• Confusion
• Severe or persistent vomiting

More information can be found at

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of nine hospitals including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a state of the art children’s hospital that opened in January 2011, and 180 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group and West Michigan Heart, physician groups totaling more than 600 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with 625,000 members. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer with more than 17,800 employees. The organization provided $115.9 million in community benefit during its 2010 fiscal year. In 2011 and 2010, Spectrum Health was named a Top 10 Health System by Thomson Reuters.