Seasonal flu shots available across the areaGrand Forks and Polk counties, as well as other area counties, UND and some health care providers, still are offering vaccinations while supplies last, officials said.
By: James R. Johnson and Ryan Johnson, Grand Forks Herald
Despite shortages of flu vaccines here and nationwide, you can still get a seasonal flu shot.
Grand Forks and Polk counties, as well as other area counties, UND and some health care providers, still are offering vaccinations while supplies last, officials said.
There are varying costs for the shots.
Altru Health System in Grand Forks announced Tuesday it’s postponing the remainder of its flu shot clinics because of delays in vaccine shipments and the high number of shots already given. As of Tuesday, Altru said 17,000 people have been vaccinated, topping last year’s pace when Altru gave 25,000 shots.
Because of the presence of the H1N1 strain nationally and locally, health officials advise people to get a seasonal flu shot as the vaccine becomes available.
“It’s important to get a seasonal flu shot so that if people come down with another flu virus, it will help doctors make important medical decisions,” said Don Shields, director of Grand Forks County Public Health.
The county gives flu shots from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at a cost of $32. Fridays are dubbed Flu Shot Fridays, the first of which was Sept. 18, when about 200 people were vaccinated. Fridays are highlighted because that’s when the department has a full staff of nurses.
Shields said Grand Forks Public Health has received half its flu vaccine supply. Jane Croeker at UND Student Health Services said all of its seasonal flu vaccine supply arrived Wednesday.
“We’ve given out 600 shots and expect to give 1,200 doses,” Croeker said. “We do expect that will be enough to cover our clinics through next week, but we don’t know what the demand is going to be.”
Cost for students and faculty is $30.
Aurora Medical Park in Grand Forks also is offering flu shots, but people should call (701) 732-2700 in advance. Costs are $45.
Both Walsh County and the Nelson-Griggs Health District said they’re waiting on about 20 percent of their vaccine shipments.
“I may have to cancel my last office clinic on Oct. 9,” said Wanda Kratochvi of Walsh County. “Many of us are in the same boat receiving notices of delays in supplies.”
Traill County District Health Unit said it’s on track with its scheduled clinics and expects to finish up with 600 vaccinations early next week.
Polk County Public Health has a flu shot clinic set for 12:30 p.m. today at the East Grand Forks Senior Center. Shots cost $25. Ten more clinics are scheduled through Oct. 27 in Crookston, Fosston, Erskine, Beltrami, Climax, McIntosh and Mentor, Minn. State officials said Minnesotans should not be discouraged if their health care provider runs out of vaccine.
“So many have been responding to our calls to get vaccinated early for seasonal influenza that the supply in the pipeline hasn’t been able to keep up with the demand,” said Kristen Ehresmann, Minnesota Department of Health. “But more vaccine is on the way, so keep checking back with your provider to find out when they will have it.”
Who should get it?
Children younger than age 9 may require two doses of seasonal vaccine and also are in the recommended group to receive 2009 H1N1 vaccine.
People who should get vaccinated for seasonal flu each year include:
n Children age 6 months and older.
n Pregnant women.
n People 50 years of age and older.
n People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions.
n People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
n People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including health care workers, household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age.
Because the first supplies of H1N1 vaccine may be limited, state and federal health officials have recommended these groups receive the 2009 H1N1 vaccine when it first becomes available:
n Pregnant women.
n People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age.
n Health care and emergency medical services personnel.
n People from the ages of 6 months to 24 years old.
n People 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.
Shields said the first shipment of 2,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine should arrive in mid to late October. He said there will be weekly shipments, and only people in priority will be able to get it, and it could be December or January before others are able to get it. The North Dakota Health Department has told Grand Forks it will receive about 10,000 doses of the vaccine before the end of the year.
Reach James R. Johnson at (701) 780-1262; (800) 477-6572, ext. 262 or send e-mail to email@example.com. Reach Ryan Johnson at (701) 780-1105 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org