Mayo Clinic to offer flu vaccine appointments
Mayo Clinic Health System will offer flu vaccines across its southeast Minnesota locations to patients 6 months and older starting Monday, according to a press release.
Now more than ever, Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all people 6 months and older get flu vaccinations to protect themselves and others from getting the flu, the release stated.
“This year, it is doubly important that everyone get the flu vaccine because if people have fever and respiratory symptoms in the fall, the first concern is going to be COVID-19,” said Priya Sampathkumar, M.D., an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic. “The symptoms of the two diseases are hard to tell apart. If you get the flu vaccine, you are less likely to get the flu and less likely to be thought of as a possible COVID-19 case.”
Like COVID-19, influenza is a virus that causes respiratory illness and symptoms can range from mild to severe or life-threatening in children and adults. However, the two illnesses are not the same, and the CDC website outlines the differences. The CDC recommends providers use any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine during the 2020–21 season.
When to get a flu vaccine
All patients should obtain their flu vaccines by the end of November to be protected during the region’s peak months of flu activity, December through January.
“The biggest concern we have is that every year, somewhere in the timeframe between December and January, we see an influenza surge in our hospitals,” said Sarah Crane, M.D., director of primary care in southeast Minnesota. “Our ability to handle that peak on top of the volume of patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals right now will be challenging. Our patients can help us greatly by getting their flu vaccines by Thanksgiving this year.”
After vaccination, it takes about two weeks to develop antibodies to protect against the flu, which is why early fall vaccination is recommended. If you are sick, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading illness to others.
Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, have respiratory symptoms or are under quarantine should delay flu vaccination until they are no longer ill or their quarantine period is over.
Scheduling an appointment for a flu vaccine
Appointments are required for flu vaccination; there will be no walk-in flu vaccine clinics in Southeast Minnesota this year. Self-scheduling flu vaccine appointments online through Patient Online Services or the Mayo Clinic App is recommended. Those options also prevent wait times on the phone and preserve resources for COVID-19. Alternatively, patients can call their local clinic to schedule an appointment for a flu vaccine. In addition, flu vaccines will be offered to all patients at existing appointments at Mayo Clinic Health System locations.
To self-schedule for patients between 6 months and 12 years of age, a parent or guardian will need to schedule the appointment using caregiver access to the child’s Patient Online Services account. Patients ages 13 to 17 will need to have their own Patient Online Services accounts to directly schedule flu vaccination appointments. When making an appointment, note that children 6 months through age 8 need two flu vaccines if it is the child’s first seasonal flu vaccination. The second vaccine is given at least four weeks from the date of the first.
Locations for flu vaccines
Patients who schedule an appointment for a flu vaccine in Albert Lea, Austin, Owatonna or Red Wing will be directed to the following locations to receive their flu vaccine:
• Albert Lea: Health Reach, 1705 SE Broadway Ave.; phone: 507-668-2121
• Austin: AMC West, 101 14th St. NW; phone: 507-509-0741
• Owatonna: Southview Building, 134 Southview St.; phone: 507-414-7027
Patients who schedule an appointment for a flu vaccine in Adams, Cannon Falls, Ellsworth, Faribault, Lake City, Lake Mills, New Richland, Plainview, Wells or Zumbrota will receive their flu vaccine at the Mayo Clinic Health System clinic.
The cost of seasonal flu vaccine is covered by many insurance plans, according to the press release. Mayo Clinic Health System will bill insurance or accept payment.
For additional information on the flu, visit the Mayo Clinic Health System website.