Minnesotans Urged To Get Their Influenza Vaccinations
It's not too late to get a flu shot and there is plenty of flu vaccine available, say state health officials. In an effort to promote flu vaccination, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the Minnesota Coalition for Adult Immunization (MCAI) and other organizations are sponsoring the annual Ban the Bug campaign Dec. 8 through Dec. 14 by providing opportunities for Minnesotans to catch up on their influenza vaccination.
The campaign coincides with the Centers for Disease Control's National Influenza Vaccination Week.
In many communities around the state, local public health agencies, nonprofit groups and health care organizations will sponsor additional influenza vaccination clinics during the week of Dec. 8 through Dec. 14, as well as the entire month of December.
"This year there is an ample supply of flu vaccine so everyone who wants to get vaccinated should do so," said Kristen Ehresmann, chief of MDH's immunizations section. "In fact, a new recommendation this year is that all children between 6 months and 18 years of age get an influenza vaccination," she said. "The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get vaccinated."
Flu seasons in Minnesota typically peak anytime between January and April, so getting an influenza vaccination now can provide months of protection.
"I encourage anyone who hasn't yet done so to get vaccinated for influenza at one of these special clinics Dec. 8 – Dec. 14. You'll be doing a lot to keep yourself, your family and your community healthy this winter," Ehresmann said.
To find the flu clinic location nearest you, go to the MDH influenza Web site at www.mdhflu.com and select Find a Flu Shot Clinic.
The cost of vaccinations will vary at each site. There is no cost to people with Medicare Part B and some other insurance plans, provided they bring their Medicare or other insurance cards with them. Those seeking shots are asked to wear short sleeves, perhaps under a sweater if it's cold, to make getting the shot easier and more comfortable.
Flu shots also may be given at other locations and times not listed on the MDH Web site. Check with your physician's office or regular walk-in clinic about getting vaccinated against the flu. For those who don't like shots, a nasal spray is also available for healthy people ages 2 through 49.
Annual vaccination against influenza is recommended for anyone, including school-aged children, who wants to reduce the risk of becoming ill with influenza or of transmitting influenza to others.
According to MDH, flu shots are strongly recommended for:
* Children aged 6 months through 18 years of age
* Pregnant women
* People 50 years of age and older
* People with chronic medical conditions
* People who live in nursing homes or other long term care facilities
* People living with or caring for someone in the above categories
* Health care workers
* Anyone wanting to reduce their chance of getting influenza
"It takes about two weeks to develop maximum protection after a flu shot, so don't delay," Ehresman said. "If you get your shot during Ban the Bug week, you should be almost fully immune by the holidays."