To meet the rising demand for flu shots, the Wright County Wellness on Wheels van is adding stops to several towns including St. Michael, Hanover, Buffalo and Monticello.
"We are seeing an increase of influenza and other respiratory illness in the county," said Christine Austin-Roehler, Public Health Preparedness & Health Promotion Coordinator at the Wright County Public Health Department, in an email to St. Michael Patch. "It's not too late to get a flu shot as the season will likely continue for several months. Some local schools are reporting increased student absences."
St. Michael-Albertville schools reported on Wednesday a normal or lower absence rate for this time of year.
The department stated it has a good supply of the vaccine, including FluMist, and recommends everyone, including children, be vaccinated.
It takes two weeks for a flu shot to give full protection.
"While the vaccine doesn't offer perfect protection, it is still the best tool we have for preventing influenza and its complications," stated a Wright County Public Health media release. "If you don’t get it, you have zero protection."
The WOW van offers flu shots given by registered nurses and operates at various locations Monday through Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Today, the WOW van is at the Monticello Cub Foods until 6 p.m.
For an extra stop, the van has added a a flu shot clinic Monday at the Wright County Human Services Center in Buffalo, located at 10 2nd St. NW, Room 300.
Other upcoming locations are:
- Tues. Jan. 15 at Coborn's in Delano
- Wed. Jan. 16 at Bank West in Hanover
- Thurs. Jan. 17 at The Marketplace in Annandale
The van will be at the St. Michael Marketplace on Wed Jan. 23.
Appointments are recommended by calling 763-682-7717 or 1-800-362-3667, ext. 7717. The WOW Van schedule is on the county website at at the right side of the home page.
WCPH can bill most health insurances. There is a small administration fee for those without insurance or a high deductible.
"Influenza can be very serious," stated the release. "Influenza is not just a cold or 'the stomach flu.' People can be quite sick and even die."
How effective is the flu shot?
According to Wright County Public Health, a flu shot is generally 60 percent effective in most people, with a higher effectiveness in children, and less for the elderly.
"Some people who have been vaccinated still get influenza but usually have less severe illness if they do get sick," the Wright County statement said. "Fortunately, the three strains included in this year's flu vaccine appear to be a good match for the predominant circulating strains."
Minnesota Department of Health reports some cases of an influenza B strain that is not covered in the vaccine.
The Wright County Public Health Department reminds the public that the flu is contagious and symptoms, which tend to come suddenly, can include a sore throat, coughing, fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.
"Most people can fight the flu at home with rest and fluids," the statement said.
People whose flu becomes severe should see a doctor.
"Influenza is caused by a virus and antibiotics are not effective against it,"the statement continued. "The incubation time for influenza is 2-4 days and can be spread to others 24 hours before any symptoms even develop. That means you can feel well and still spread influenza."
To help prevent the spread of influenza this year, Wright County Public Health recommends:
- Do your best to stay healthy. Get plenty of rest, physical activity and healthy eating.
- Stay home from school or work if you are sick. Avoid exposing yourself to others who are sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue away. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes and nose as this is a good route for flu germs to enter the body.
- Clean surfaces often, such as doorknobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles and telephones.