Flu vaccine supply plentiful for those who still need a shot
WILLMAR -- Local health providers still have vaccine left for anyone who hasn't gotten a flu shot yet. Providers say they'll continue to offer the shots until the supply runs out. "There's still time for people to get their shots and get protecte...
WILLMAR -- Local health providers still have vaccine left for anyone who hasn't gotten a flu shot yet.
Providers say they'll continue to offer the shots until the supply runs out.
"There's still time for people to get their shots and get protected against the flu," said Rosanne Anderson, medical support supervisor at Family Practice Medical Center in Willmar.
The message is being underscored in a statewide "Ban the Bug" campaign, which started Monday and runs through Dec. 15. The campaign is organized by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Coalition for Adult Immunization. Local health providers already have given out hundreds of flu shots since the beginning of October.
Affiliated Community Medical Centers has administered more than 20,000 vaccinations at its 10 regional sites -- and ended up purchasing more vaccine to help meet the demand, said Jo DeBruycker of Affiliated's Health Learning Center.
"We have been giving vaccine steadily," she said Monday.
Demand is beginning to slow, but at its peak there were 100 flu shots being given daily, she said.
The pace has been similar at Family Practice Medical Center.
"We've given a lot of vaccinations already," Anderson said. "Some of our vaccine was a little late in arriving, but we currently have a good supply."
Who should get a flu shot: infants, young children, anyone over 50, anyone with a chronic medical condition such as diabetes or asthma, and anyone who has contact with someone in one or more of these high-risk groups.
Minnesota Department of Health officials also urge flu shots for anyone who wants to reduce the chance of getting sick this winter from influenza.
Family Practice Medical Center is offering flu shots to its established patients on a walk-in basis. Patients can show up between 9 and 11:30 a.m. or from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to be vaccinated.
Renville County Public Health has scheduled a special flu shot clinic from 3 to 5:30 p.m. today at the Renville County Office Building in Olivia.
Affiliated Community Medical Centers will offer flu shots to its patients on a walk-in basis as long as the supply lasts.
DeBruycker said Affiliated has injectable vaccine available as well as an inhaled flu vaccine for patients who are eligible and want to avoid needles.
Affiliated also has some thimerosal-free vaccine available for use in children.
The thimerosal-free vaccine was ordered in response to parents' concerns about mercury in the vaccine, DeBruycker said. "What is in the flu vaccine is a very small amount, but we think people should have choices."
This year's flu vaccine is formulated to protect against three strains of influenza viruses. While it isn't 100 percent effective, it can help reduce the likelihood of severe illness and complications from flu.
Local providers said they've worked especially hard to ensure the vaccine is available to those who need it the most.
"I think people really are getting the message," DeBruycker said.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota led the nation in 2005 with a 78.2 percent vaccination rate for people 65 and older.
Minnesota has yet to officially confirm its first case of influenza this winter. But Affiliated Community Medical Centers, which participates in a flu surveillance program for the state Health Department and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saw its first unofficial flu case last week, DeBruycker said. The patient had not been vaccinated against influenza, she said.
The CDC reported no flu activity in Minnesota and sporadic activity in Iowa and North Dakota for the week ending Nov. 25.