(MINOT, ND) – Influenza can strike at any time, but Fall is the traditional season for getting a flu shot.
There’s a good reason for this timing. September or October is usually when the new flu vaccine becomes available. To ensure that as many people as possible are protected, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge everyone to begin getting vaccinated soon after the vaccine arrives.
‘It takes a couple of weeks for the body to build up immunity, so the sooner a person gets vaccinated, the sooner they’ll protect themselves and the people they come into contact with,’ said Linda Huettle, Trinity Health Employee Health Nurse.
There’s no way to predict the severity of any given flu season. It depends on a number of factors, not the least of which is the particular strain of flu that emerges as most prevalent. Although there haven’t been many flu cases reported yet this season, some health officials believe the current season may be severe. History often dictates what will happen, and the past few years have been bad years for the flu. North Dakota had 6,700 cases of the flu reported last year, including 65 deaths.
‘Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others,’ says Dr. Casmiar Nwaigwe, infectious disease specialist with Trinity Health. ‘The important thing is to get vaccinated ñ not only to protect yourself but the people around you.’
The good news, according to the CDC, is that early tests point to a better match between circulating viruses and those found in the vaccine, making this year’s shot potentially more effective than last year’s. Trinity is again among the medical providers across the nation offering the quadrivalent influenza vaccine. It will protect against four viruses ñ two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.
The CDC recommends that everyone who is at least six months of age get a flu shot. To make vaccination more convenient, Trinity Health is offering three walk-in sites in Minot for adult vaccination. Children under three years of age are advised to make an appointment with their pediatrician. Adults also may schedule an appointment with their provider’s office to receive a flu shot. Trinity Health will bill all verified insurances, and people are asked to bring a copy of their insurance cards. For uninsured individuals, the cost is $55 due at the time of service.