The reason is this: For many people, it will be recommended that they be vaccinated for both the seasonal flu (one dose) and the H1N1 flu (two doses), which is a total of three doses. This increase in the number of vaccines being dispensed is expected to place an increased burden on communities and health care providers. To facilitate this, people are being asked to get their seasonal flu vaccine as soon as possible. Then, when the H1N1 vaccine becomes available as anticipated in October, programs and providers will shift the focus to the influx of people that need to be vaccinated for H1N1.
Vaccinating people to protect against seasonal flu in September is a bit earlier than normal, but doing so does not decrease a person's immunity – the vaccine, even in the elderly, will provide protection for the duration of the flu season.
MeritCare will begin offering seasonal influenza (flu) vaccinations to patients 18 years of age and older at flu shot blitzes in Fargo on:
- Tues., Sept. 15, 9 a.m-6 p.m., MeritCare Broadway, 737 Broadway.
- Wed., Sept 16, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., MeritCare Southpointe, door C, 2400 32nd Ave. S.
- Mon., Sept 21, 5-8 p.m., MeritCare Southpointe.
- Tues., Sept 22, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., MeritCare Southpointe.
- Wed., Sept. 30, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., MeritCare Broadway.
Flu shots for children/teens: Parents with children/teens ages 0-18 years should call their doctor's office to make an appointment. All children ages 6 months through 8 years who have not received vaccination against influenza previously will need to receive two doses of the influenza vaccine – they should get the first dose as soon as possible and should receive the second dose at least four weeks later.
Who should receive a seasonal flu shot? According to the CDC, every person, including school-aged children, who wants to reduce the risk of becoming ill with seasonal influenza or of transmitting it to others, should get a seasonal flu shot. Certain groups are at higher risk and are strongly recommended to receive the vaccination:
- All children ages 6 months up until their 19th birthday.
- All people ages 50 and older.
- Women who will be pregnant during the flu season.
- Adults and children with chronic heart, lung, kidney, liver or metabolic diseases like diabetes.
- Adults and children who have a weakened immune system.
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
- Health-care personnel
- Household contacts and caregivers of children younger than 5 years of age and adults over 50, with special emphasis on children younger than 6 months.
- Household contacts and caregivers of people at high risk for complications due to influenza.
- MeritCare is offering flu shots for $37 for those persons that meet CDC guidelines between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31. Flu shots given after Jan. 1, 2009, will be $66.
- Preservative-free vaccine will be provided at a charge of $42 between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31. The price for preservative-free flu shots will be $75 beginning on Jan. 1, 2009.
- If you have a doctor's appointment scheduled, ask to get a flu shot during your appointment.
- Patients attending a blitz at MeritCare Broadway should park in the top parking deck on the north side of the campus and come in the main entrance.
- MeritCare regional clinic flu shot blitz dates and times can be obtained by calling the individual clinics.
- For more information, call MeritCare's flu info line at (701) 234-1234.
- Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
- For more information about flu or flu vaccination, go to flu.gov.