This year presents a new challenge for health care workers and public health officials – taking on two respiratory illnesses at once. With COVID-19 still circulating and the influenza season upon us, receiving flu shots are even more important this year.
Despite the unique challenge, Tri-County Health Care is prepared. Part of that is encouraging people of all ages to receive their flu vaccination this year.
“If there was ever a year to get your flu vaccine, this is the year to get it,” said Ben Hess, M.D. and Tri-County Health Care Chief Medical Officer. “It will be important to get it now, so it’s easier for your provider to sort through what kind of illness you may have.”
If a patient presents with symptoms consistent with a respiratory illness but has received a flu shot, a provider will be more suspicious that it is COVID-19.
Helping Prepare the Community
There have already been positive cases for influenza in the area. That is why Tri-County Health Care has taken steps to encourage and assist community members in getting their flu shot this year.
Patients can receive their vaccine at primary and specialty care appointments. Tri-County Health Care has also scheduled flu shot clinics throughout its service area. These options offer patients a convenient way to receive their flu shot.
Upcoming dates and locations for flu shot clinics include:
- Sebeka Clinic: Tuesday, Oct. 13, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (106 Minnesota Ave., Sebeka, MN 56477)
- Henning Clinic: Wednesday, Oct. 14, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (401 Douglas Ave., Henning, MN 56551)
- Bertha Clinic: Thursday, Oct. 15, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (214 1st St NW, Bertha, MN 56437)
- Wadena Clinic:
- Saturday, Oct. 17, 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. (4 Deerwood Ave. NW, Wadena, MN 56482)
- Saturday, Oct. 31, 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. (4 Deerwood Ave. NW, Wadena, MN 56482)
- Ottertail Clinic: Tuesday, Oct. 27, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (232 Minnesota Highway 78 North, Ottertail, MN 56571)
Masking, screening and social distancing will take place at each event.
The Importance of Flu Shots
Everyone 6 months and older should receive immunization every flu season. For people who are at high risk of serious complications and adults 65 years and older, the flu shot is more important than ever this year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 39 million people were affected by flu-related illnesses from Oct. 1, 2019, through Apr. 4, 2020. More people receiving this vaccination leads to increased protection throughout the community. A flu vaccine this season will also help reduce the burden on our health care systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and save medical resources for the care of those patients.
In addition to receiving the annual flu shot, it’s important to continue taking steps to reduce the spread of both respiratory illnesses. Mitigation strategies include washing your hands often, social distancing and wearing a face mask.
“Anything we can do to lessen both of those illnesses is important for the community,” said Dr. Hess. “It’s something we should all be striving for.”