Influenza or “flu” is a serious contagious disease that kills thousands every year and is the most frequent cause of death from a vaccine preventable disease in the United States.
Minnesota influenza outbreaks typically occur between December through April. Antibodies develop about two weeks after getting the vaccine, but drops in the elderly and those with immuno-compromising diseases.
Due to the late peak in Influenza A, specifically the H3N2 strain, during the 2018-2019 flu season the World Health Organization delayed making their selection on influenza strains for the 2019-2020 flu vaccines. The delayed decision means manufacturing was not able to start on time and supply is about 3 weeks behind the normal schedule.
Riverwood will offer flu clinics for the public by appointment at all three of its clinics on the dates and times listed here.
Aitkin clinic: Oct. 23 & Nov. 6 & 12, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
Garrison clinic: Oct. 22 & Nov. 5, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
McGregor clinic: Oct. 24 & Nov. 7, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
To make an appointment, call Riverwood’s toll-free flu line at (888) 303-4550.
Flu shot appointments can be scheduled online through MyChart for those Riverwood patients who are using this online tool to manage their health. A link to the MyChart login is on the Riverwood website homepage.
Riverwood will NOT be offering the live attenuated influenza vaccine (also known as the nasal spray or Flu Mist). Everyone, 6 months and older, is still recommended to get the vaccine.
“While the flu vaccine does not always protect us from getting influenza, research shows that receiving a flu vaccine each year can reduce the risk of hospitalizations, pneumonia, and death,” said Laura Wood, infection preventionist. “At Riverwood, we are committed to keeping our hospital and clinic patients safe and we urge community members to get flu shots, cover their coughs or sneezes, perform hand hygiene, and refrain from visiting hospital patients when you are ill.”
Laura Wood offers these responses to common concerns about getting a flu shot:
- “I got the flu vaccine and I still got sick.”
The vaccine does not always protect individuals from getting influenza, however, it does decrease the risk of hospitalization and death. Last year, 80 percent of the 180 pediatric deaths were in unvaccinated children. Those who get the vaccination and then get infected with influenza often have a shorter and less severe illness, even during influenza seasons when the vaccine is not a good match.
- “I never get sick, I don’t need a flu shot.”
Getting vaccinated helps protect others. Individuals can be infectious from about one day before symptom onset to up to seven days after becoming sick. The vaccine also protects those who get flu shots. There is also a growing body of research showing influenza vaccination has been associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease.
- “I am allergic to eggs.”
Egg allergies alone are no longer a reason to not get vaccinated. The advisory committee on immunization practices recommends all people with egg allergies still talk with their provider about getting vaccinated.