Editorial: It's time for the annual flu shot
It's that time of year again - time to get your flu shot. And this year there seems to be plenty to go around.
The flu season usually peaks in Minnesota after the first of the year, sometime between January and April, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Getting the influenza show now, before the flu season peaks, is a good idea.
This week, MDH is sponsoring a Ban the Bug campaign and is getting the word out about the importance of getting a flu shot.
"This year there is an ample supply of flu vaccine so everyone who wants to get vaccinated should do so," said Kristen Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease Division. "In fact, a new recommendation this year is that anyone 6 months and older should get an influenza vaccination."
It is especially important that those at high risk for serious complications from influenza be vaccinated, the MDH reports. These include pregnant women, seniors, young children and those with chronic medical conditions. Because seniors may not respond as well to the vaccine, it is important to vaccinate people who live or work with seniors. Also, to protect their patients, themselves and their families, all health care workers should be vaccinated for influenza.
Children under six months of age cannot receive flu vaccine, so household contacts and caretakers should be vaccinated to protect the very young.
Also this year, there are more places to get a flu shot. Pharmacists can now give flu shots and last year's experience with H1N1 brought new health care partners and providers on board. To find the flu clinic location nearest you, go to the MDH influenza website at www.mdhflu.com and select Find a Flu Shot Clinic.
Flu shots also may be given at other locations and times not listed on the MDH website. 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.
The cost of vaccinations will vary at each site. Those who have Medicare Part B or other health insurance should remember to bring their cards with them. MDH recommends 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.
Ehresman reports it takes about two weeks to develop maximum protection after a flu shot. Getting a shot now should ensure protection by the time the holidays arrive.
So, get your flu shot now rather than waiting.