Flu clinics abundant in the areaAs flu season approaches, health officials are urging community members to protect themselves from the adverse effects of influenza.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
As flu season approaches, health officials are urging community members to protect themselves from the adverse effects of influenza.
“Not only does getting vaccinated keep us and our families healthy, it helps lower the amount of flu spreading to those in our communities at highest risk of severe illness or death from influenza, such as infants, pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions,” said Vicki Iocco, public health nurse with Goodhue County Health and Human Services.
Last year in Goodhue County, more than 15,800 infants, children and adults were vaccinated for influenza, Iocco reported. That’s nearly 35 percent of the local population.
Influenza season can start as soon as October, so Goodhue County Health and Human Services is preparing flu clinics that will be held just as soon.
“It’s not too early to get vaccinated,” Iocco said.
The clinics are located in school buildings at the same time as parent/teacher conferences to make it easy for children and their parents to get vaccinated during a time that they’ll already be at school. Vaccines will be available to everyone age 6 months and older.
Goodhue County Health and Human Services will not only offer the flu shot but also the Tdap — tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis — vaccine because of the increasing number of pertussis outbreaks. More than 3,300 pertussis cases have been reported in Minnesota since January, Iocco said, and only 8 percent of adults have received a Tdap this year.
At the school flu clinics, the Tdap vaccine will be offered to people ages 18-64.
In addition to the county’s clinics, several other flu shot opportunities are coming up starting in October.
Mayo Clinic Health System has flu vaccinations available at its locations in Ellsworth and Alma, Wis., as well as Cannon Falls, Lake City, Red Wing, Zumbrota, Wabasha and Plainview, Minn.
“This year the universal recommendation is anyone over 6 months of age should be vaccinated,” explained Tom Witt, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Red Wing, Lake City and Cannon Falls. “Young kids, pregnant women, people over 65 and those people with chronic conditions are the most vulnerable. Even an ordinary case of influenza can have more of an impact on those folks.”
Patients who already have other types of medical appointments scheduled with primary care providers at Mayo Clinic locations can kill two birds with one stone and receive a flu vaccination at the same time.
Those who don’t have upcoming visits planned can call any of the facilities to schedule a specific appointment for their shot.
While some fear that getting the vaccine will cause them to immediately contract the flu, Mayo Clinic Health System officials assure people that is not the case.
“The vaccine that’s given is not a live virus. It’s an inactivated virus so it’s literally impossible for it to actually cause influenza,” Witt said.
Although people may have had mild reactions to flu vaccines in the past, Witt said that shouldn’t keep them from getting protected through vaccination this year.
“It’s the smart thing to do. Prevention is always better than having to deal with the problem.”
Goodhue County Health and Human Services will provide flu clinics at the following times and locations:
• 3 to 6 p.m. Sept. 26 at Goodhue Public School, 510 Third Ave., Goodhue
• 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 15 at Red Wing High School, 2451 Eagle Ridge Drive
• 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 22 at Pine Island School, 223 First Ave. S.E., Pine Island
• 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 29 at Zumbrota-Mazeppa Elementary, 799 Mill St., Zumbrota
• 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 30 at Zumbrota-Mazeppa Elementary
• 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 30 at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School, 400 Sixth St., Kenyon
• 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 1 at Kenyon-Wanamingo Elementary School, 225 Third St., Wanamingo
• 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at Sunnyside Elementary, 1669 Southwood Ave., Red Wing
• 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at Twin Bluff Middle School, 2120 Twin Bluff Road, Red Wing
• 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at Pine Island School
• 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 15 at Burnside Elementary, 5001 Learning Lane, Red Wing
The clinics are available for anyone age 6 months and older. For more information, call 651-385-6100.
Mayo Clinic Health System will offer flu clinics at the following times and locations:
• Oct. 2 at 701 Fairview Blvd., Red Wing. Call 651-267-5000 to set up an appointment; walk-ins also available.
• Oct. 3 at 500 W. Grant St., Lake City. Call 651-345-1100.
• Oct. 4 at 1350 Jefferson Drive, Zumbrota. Call 507-732-7314.
• Oct. 4 at 530 W. Cairns St., Ellsworth. Call 715-273-5061.
• Oct. 5 at 1122 W. Mill St., Cannon Falls. Call 507-263-3951.