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Officials urge residents to take advantage of flu vaccine available in Willmar, Minn.

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Officials urge residents to take advantage of flu vaccine available in Willmar, Minn.
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR — If you still haven’t gotten a flu shot, better not delay.

That’s the advice of local medical providers, who say there’s still vaccine available but anticipate using up the supply in upcoming weeks.

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Of the 32,000 doses of inhaled and injectable influenza vaccine that Affiliated Community Medical Centers ordered this year for its 11 regional clinics, most is already gone, said Jo DeBruycker, manager of the Health Learning Center.

“We have no FluMist left and we have only a couple thousand doses of the injectable vaccine left,” she said.

The supply will probably run out by the holidays, she said. “Take advantage before it’s gone.”

Family Practice Medical Center has both the injected and inhaled versions of the vaccine still available. Demand is running similar to most years, said Stacey Zondervan, assistant administrator of patient services. “We’re where we usually are for this time of year.”

But the family practice clinic expects to use up the entire supply this winter, she said. “That’s always our goal.”

The medical clinics offer the flu vaccine to their established patients. Several local retail pharmacies provide flu shots as well. Other opportunities to get vaccinated include worksites and community health clinics.

Reminders about the flu vaccine coincide with Ban the Bug Week, the Minnesota Department of Health’s annual campaign to help make the vaccine available to Minnesotans in a variety of settings.

A list of locations can be found online at www.mdhflu.com under the “Find a Flu Shot Clinic” heading.

Seasonal immunization against the influenza virus is recommended for everyone older than 6 months. Health officials especially urge the vaccine for higher-risk populations: pregnant women, young children, older adults and anyone with a chronic medical condition such as diabetes or asthma.

Because babies can’t receive the flu vaccine until they’re 6 months old, vaccination also is recommended for family members, caregivers and others who have frequent contact with infants.

Influenza activity in Minnesota is currently considered minimal, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Family Practice Medical Center has seen little of influenza so far this season, Zondervan said. “We’ve done some testing but so far nothing has been positive.”

But half a dozen states are seeing regional activity, and in four states the influenza virus is widespread.

At ACMC, one of several flu surveillance sites for the Minnesota Department of Health, six patients tested positive for influenza in the past week, DeBruycker said.

Traveling and family reunions over the holidays can hasten the spread of the virus, one more reason for getting immunized soon if you haven’t already done so, she said. “We’re all going to get busier, not less busy, at this time of year. If you haven’t done it, it’s a smart thing to take care of it now.”

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Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at http://healthbeat.areavoices.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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