Ban the Bug campaign urges Minnesotans to get vaccinated for influenzaInfluenza season is just getting under way in Minnesota, so it’s not too late to get vaccinated against what can be a serious disease, said state health officials.
Influenza season is just getting under way in Minnesota, so it’s not too late to get vaccinated against what can be a serious disease, said state health officials.
People can get vaccinated during Minnesota’s annual Ban the Bug campaign, a collaborative effort to provide Minnesotans with opportunities to get their annual influenza vaccination, which runs December 2-8.
Local public health agencies, nonprofit groups and health care organizations will also sponsor flu vaccination clinics during Ban the Bug week, as well as throughout December and beyond.
Besides the traditional flu shot, there is a nasal spray available for healthy people between ages 2 and 49 and a new method that uses a small needle to inject the vaccine into the skin layers.
Influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months or older unless they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Those at high risk for serious complications from the flu, including pregnant women, seniors, young children and those with chronic medical conditions, should especially be vaccinated.
Influenza is a disease that can have serious consequences. Even during a typical influenza season such as 2011-2012, more than 500 Minnesotans were hospitalized with influenza.
The vaccine often changes from year to year because the strains of virus circulating around the world can change. This year, there are two new strains plus the H1N1 strain in the vaccine.
Flu season can peak anytime between January and April, so getting an influenza vaccination now can provide months of protection, said Kris Ehresmann, director of MDH’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control division.
The cost of vaccinations will vary at each site. There is no cost to people with Medicare Part B and some other insurance plans. Those seeking shots are asked to wear short sleeves.
During flu season, besides getting vaccinated, there are other steps people can take to avoid spreading or catching influenza:
• Try to stay healthy. Get plenty of rest, physical activity and healthy eating.
• Stay home from school or work if stricken with a respiratory infection. Avoid being exposed to others who are sick with flu-like illness.
• Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If no tissue, cough or sneeze into a sleeve.
• Clean frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles and telephones.
• Wash hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
The symptoms of influenza, which tend to come on suddenly, can include a sore throat, coughing, fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. People who become severely ill with influenza-like symptoms should see a physician.
To locate the nearest flu clinic, visit www.mdhflu.com and choose “Find a Flu Shot Clinic.”
Flu shots also may be given at other locations and times not listed on the MDH website. Check with a physician’s office or walk-in clinic about getting vaccinated against the flu.