The flu shot is now readily available in many locations across the Northland and Essentia Health in Duluth, with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is stressing the importance of getting a flu shot this season.

Essentia Health notes that health systems across our region continue to face increased demand for care, which puts stress on available resources. Getting a flu shot has proven to be an effective way to reduce your chances of getting seriously ill.

They add that health experts across the country, including influenza specialists, are worried that the U.S. will experience a severe flu season this year. The reason for their concern is that last year people were more diligent with masking and social distancing due to COVID-19, which lead to a record low number of influenza cases. Now, those precautions are not as prevalent and people have limited immunity on their own.

“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.”

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 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.”

If the 2021-2022 flu season is more severe as expected, vaccinations could prevent considerably more people from getting seriously ill.

The CDC points out that different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people.

  • There are flu shots approved for use in children as young as 6 months old and flu shots approved for use in adults 65 years and older.
  • Flu shots also are recommended for pregnant people and people with certain chronic health conditions.
  • The nasal spray flu vaccine is approved for use in non-pregnant people who are 2 years through 49 years of age. People who are pregnant and people with certain medical conditions should not receive the nasal spray flu vaccine.

Essentia Health has many options when it comes to getting your flu shot, including going directly to their main campus or going to a walk-in clinic.

On a related note, anyone who would also like to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can do so when they get their flu shot. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices says it's safe to receive both a flu and COVID vaccination at the same time and Essentia Health is prepared to administer both.

KEEP READING: See 25 natural ways to boost your immune system

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Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

Keep reading to discover answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions.