Flu Vaccine Now Available at Twin Port Hospitals

DULUTH, Minn. — Each year, about one in five people get the flu and more than 200 thousand people are hospitalized, in part of flu-related complications.

Both St. Luke’s and Essentia Health are now offering vaccines for the flu season, in hopes of reducing potential outbreaks and its effects.

St. Luke’s Dr. Andrew Thompson said, in part of masking and social distancing, the past two flu seasons have been semi mild.

Although, case numbers are expected to return to average levels this year.

Dr. Thompson is an Infectious Disease Specialist.

Since last fall, he along with many others have been studying the flu and preparing this years vaccine.

“The flu vaccine reduces the amount of hospitalization, death, and severe diseases that we get from flu. It prevents probably half of the normal flu that we’d otherwise see presented to care.”

Thompson said that researchers turn to other countries to know what they should expect come flu season.

“This past winter in Australia they had a really, really active flu season. So they have a lot more flu then they have in the past few years. We could look to that and expect that we’ll have more flu this year.”

Thompson goes on to explain why its better to get the vaccine now, than later.

“What you want to make sure is that you get your flu vaccine two weeks before the flu starts circulating in the community so that you’re protected. We don’t always know when that is, we’ve had outbreaks in late November, early December. Usually it’s a little bit later than that, usually it’s into January when we start to see flu activity.”

For people who don’t like needles, there is a flu mist, known as the nasal version of the vaccine.

Granted, it’s only for people ages two through 49.

Thompson said its not as effective for those outside that range, and that those groups are already at the highest risk of getting sick.

“The rate of hospitalization of severe disease and of death for influenza, is mostly in older folks, as well as young. That’s why we really encourage flu vaccine for those under five and for elders. We encourage it for everyone, but those are the groups that are at the highest risk of getting really sick.”

The flu shot is available to anyone six months and older.

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