Essentia Health emphasizes importance, availability of flu shots
Many health experts, including influenza specialists, are worried that the U.S. will experience a severe flu season this year, due to limited immunity against influenza after a record low number of cases in 2020-21 -- when masking and social distancing were so prevalent.
As health systems across our region confront increased demand for care and a subsequent stress on resources, Essentia Health reminds folks that getting a flu shot is an effective way to greatly reduce your chances of getting ill.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019-20 flu vaccination “prevented an estimated 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.”
Many health experts, including influenza specialists, are worried that the U.S. will experience a severe flu season this year.
The warning stems from limited immunity against influenza after a record low number of cases in 2020-21 when masking and social distancing were so prevalent. Getting immunized against the flu is one way for communities to help ease the burden on health care providers.
“Vaccines, including influenza and COVID vaccines, are important tools to keep ourselves and communities safe,” said Roseann Hines, an Essentia Health pharmacist and our senior operations manager for medication use management. “It is important for us to do our part and obtain our influenza vaccine annually.”
Essentia aims to make it as convenient as possible for people to receive a flu shot. That includes during previously scheduled appointments; at one of its many pharmacies or clinics offering walk-in availability; or scheduling an appointment at your nearest Essentia clinic, which can be done via our MyChart patient portal or by calling (844) 663-1068.
For a comprehensive list of walk-in flu shot opportunities, click here .
The CDC offers numerous resources around the upcoming influenza season; access them by clicking here . As of Oct. 8, the CDC reports more than 128 million doses of flu vaccine administered in the U.S. for the current season.
Please note that, depending on the Essentia location you visit, you may be able to receive your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine — or other needed vaccinations — simultaneously. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has determined it safe to receive both a flu and COVID vaccination at the same time.
Come for the flu shot, stay for the COVID-19 booster shot
Following recent guidance from the CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Essentia is ready to administer Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to the following populations:
• People aged 65 and older and residents of long-term-care facilities
• People aged 50-64 with underlying medical conditions that make them especially susceptible to severe COVID-19
• People aged 18-49 with specific medical conditions, based on an assessment of their individual benefits and risks
• People in the 18-64 age group who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission based on their occupational or institutional settings
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are available under emergency use authorization (EUA) at least six months after the initial two-dose series. The Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, meanwhile, is available under EUA for all individuals aged 18 and older, and at least two months after an initial single dose.
The CDC also authorized the use of “mix-and-match” booster doses. A single booster dose of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines mentioned above may be administered as a booster following completion of primary vaccination with a different COVID vaccine.
The eligible groups and dosing intervals for mixed booster doses are the same as the vaccine used for primary vaccination. For example, those who received Johnson & Johnson as their primary vaccination may receive a single booster dose of Johnson & Johnson, Moderna OR Pfizer-BioNTech at least two months after their primary vaccination.
You can schedule a vaccine appointment with Essentia through MyChart or by calling (833) 494-0836. Essentia Health pharmacies also offer vaccination opportunities. Please bring your vaccination card to your booster dose appointment.