As the weather turns, area clinics prepare to administer flu shotsIt may seem a bit early, but the area has already had its first freeze, and yes, it’s time to think about getting a flu shot. Grand Forks clinics are gearing up for the fight against the influenza virus, and no shortage of the vaccine is expected this year.
By: Brandi Jewett, Herald Staff Writer
It may seem a bit early, but the area has already had its first freeze, and yes, it’s time to think about getting a flu shot.
Grand Forks clinics are gearing up for the fight against the influenza virus, and no shortage of the vaccine is expected this year.
“It’s available, that’s for sure,” said Carolyn Kaltenberg, immunization program director for the Grand Forks Public Health Department.
The vaccine administered for the 2011-2012 flu season will protect against the three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common. This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus.
If these viruses sound familiar, it’s because they are the same ones that circulated last year.
“When vaccines are created, they are meant for that season,” Kaltenberg said. Even if you received a vaccination last year, you should get another this year she said.
A yearly vaccination now is recommended for virtually everyone except infants younger than 6 months and people with severe allergies to the eggs used in vaccine manufacture.
Young children, people 50 and older, anyone with chronic medical conditions such as asthma and certain heart or kidney conditions and pregnant women are the most at risk for contracting influenza. A vaccination during pregnancy has the added benefit of passing some protection to the baby.
It is recommended that children under the age of 9 receive an initial flu vaccination and a booster four weeks later, Kaltenberg said. If a child was vaccinated last flu season, he or she should receive only one dose this year.
Last year, 49 percent of U.S. children and 41 percent of adults were vaccinated, according to the national Centers for Disease Control website. The CDC has reported that manufacturers are expected to produce 166 million doses of the influenza vaccine— nine million more than last year.
Flu typically starts circulating around November, and peaks around January.
The city health department will hold a community clinic on Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in its office on the 6th floor of the Grand Forks County Office Building. Patients can preregister by calling at (701) 787-8100.
The vaccine is available in injection form. Cost is $35. Accepted insurance companies are Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Medicare part B, Humana Gold Choice and North Dakota Medical Assistance. Cash will also be accepted. Patients may request an itemized receipt to send insurance companies other than those listed.
UND Student Health will be holding vaccination clinics during the first two weeks of October, said Julie Tennison, a registered nurse at the center.
The first week will be for students only. The following week will be open to faculty and staff as well, she said.
Classrooms and residence halls are confined areas where illness can spread quickly, and getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, Tennison said.
Student Health doesn’t anticipate running out of vaccine.
“We usually don’t see a huge turnout,” Tennison said. “But if we do run out, we can get a new supply here in a reasonable amount of time.”
Cost at UND is $35. Student Health will accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield or students can pay with cash, by check or charge it to their university accounts.
Reach Jewett at (701) 787-6736; (800) 477-6572, ext. 2736; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.