Celebrating the season with shots to the armThe Grand Forks Public Health Department began offering flu shots on a walk-in basis a week ago, and will continue offering them until Friday.
By: Brandi Jewett, Grand Forks Herald
Flu season is here and area healthcare providers are encouraging the public to get immunized, including Grand Forks mayor and physician Mike Brown who received his shot during the Oct. 15 City Council meeting.
“I can honestly say it doesn’t hurt,” he said after Debbie Swanson, nursing and nutrition supervisor at the Public Health Department, administered the injection.
The health department began offering flu shots on a walk-in basis a week ago, and will continue offering them until Friday.
Carolyn Kaltenberg, the department’s immunization program manager, says immunization is about more than preventing yourself from getting sick. “You’re not only protecting yourself. You’re protecting the people around you.”
It is especially important for caregivers of infants and the elderly to receive the shot, Kaltenberg said. Members of these two groups are at a high risk of developing serious complications if they contract the flu. In addition, infants younger than 6 months cannot receive an immunization.
This year’s immunization covers the three influenza strains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes will cause the most illness this year — including H1N1 or the swine flu.
Those seeking flu shots should bring immunization records and health insurance cards. Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medicare and North Dakota Medicaid are accepted.
The cost of the immunization is $37 for the shot and $41 for the mist for those with other insurance plans.
Check with your insurance carrier to see if flu shots are covered, Kaltenberg said.
The mist, administered as a nasal spray, can only be given to people 2 to 49 years old who are not pregnant and have no chronic health conditions.
Flu shots will be available on walk-in basis at the health department again starting today. The shots are offered 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until Friday. They will still be available by appointment.
The Public Health Department administers about 3,000 to 3,500 flu shots each year, according to Kaltenberg.
Flu shots also are available by appointment at Altru clinics and at local pharmacies.
Keeping the flu under control
• Wash your hands: Make sure to wash your hands frequently to ensure you don’t spread the flu or pick it up from others.
• Stay home: If you’re sick, stay home from work or school to keep the virus from spreading and to allow yourself time to recover.
• Cough right: Coughing into a tissue or your arm also will help prevent the flu from spreading. If you cough into your hands, wash them immediately or use hand sanitizer.
• Get vaccinated: Getting a flu shot gives you a greater chance of not contracting the flu altogether.
Source: Carolyn Kaltenberg, Grand Forks Public Health
Call Jewett at (701) 780-1108; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1108; or send email to email@example.com.