Medical Equipment and Supplies

Flu Shots

Flu shots and vaccinations available. Call (218)326.2635 for an appointment.

The flu season is from November to April, with most cases occurring between late December and early March. The vaccine is usually offered between September and mid-November and may be given at other times of the year.

Getting the shot before the flu season is in full force gives the body a chance to build up immunity to, or protection from, the virus. Although available well into flu season, it's best to get a shot earlier rather than later. In times when the vaccine is in short supply, certain people need it more than others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will often recommend that certain high-risk groups be given priority when flu shot supplies are limited. Call your doctor or local public health department about vaccine availability in your area.

A non-shot option, the nasal mist vaccine, is now available, but because it contains weakened live flu viruses it is not for people with weakened immune systems or certain health conditions. The nasal mist vaccine is only for healthy, non-pregnant people between the ages of 2 and 49 years. Check with your doctor to see if your child can -- or should -- get this type of flu vaccine.

Who Should Typically Get the Flu Shot?
High-risk children who should get the flu vaccine include those who:

  • are between 6 - 59 months of age
  • were born prematurely and are at increased risk of developing lung problems
    if they get influenza
  • have chronic heart or lung disorders, including asthma
  • have chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, kidney disease,
    severe anemia, or immune deficiency (including HIV/AIDS and
    immunosuppression caused by drugs)
  • are on long-term aspirin therapy and may be at risk for Reye Syndrome
    if they catch the flu
  • live with someone in any of the high-risk groups above

High-risk adults who should get the flu vaccine include:
  • those with chronic lung or heart disorders
  • those with chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus kidney disease,
    severe anemia, or immune deficiency (including HIV/AIDS and
    immunosuppression caused by drugs)
  • pregnant women
  • residents of nursing homes and other facilities that care for people with
    chronic medical conditions
  • health care workers and other employees of hospitals, nursing homes, and
    chronic care and other outpatient facilities who care for patients
  • police, firefighters, and other public safety workers
  • those planning to travel to the tropics at any time or to the Southern
    Hemisphere from April through September who did not receive a flu vaccine
    the previous year
  • everyone 50 years of age or older
  • out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of anyone in any of
    the high-risk groups

If you want to get the flu shot and aren't in the high-risk groups listed above, talk to your doctor about vaccine availability.

People who should not get a flu shot include:
  • anyone who's severely allergic to eggs and egg products
    (ingredients for flu shots are grown inside eggs, so tell your doctor if
    your child is allergic to eggs or egg products before he or she
    gets a flu shot)
  • infants under 6 months old
  • anyone who's ever had a severe reaction to a flu vaccination
    (although most people do not experience any side effects from the
    flu shot)
  • anyone with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare condition that
    affects the immune system and nerves
  • anyone with a fever

Kids under age 9 who get a flu shot for the first time will receive two separate shots a month apart. It can take about 1 or 2 weeks after the shot for the body to build up protection to the flu.

How the Flu Vaccine Works
Flu vaccines are available as a shot or nasal mist. Given as an injection, the flu shot contains killed flu viruses that will not cause the flu, but will prepare the body to fight off infection by the live flu virus. Getting a shot of the killed virus means a person is protected against that particular type of live flu virus if he or she comes into contact with it. The nasal mist vaccine contains weakened live flu viruses. Because it contains live viruses, the mist is not for people with weakened immune systems or certain health conditions.

You should receive a new shot each year because the protection wears off and flu viruses constantly change. The vaccine is updated each year to include the most current strains of the virus. The vaccine reduces the average person's chances of catching the flu by up to 80% during the season. Because the vaccine prevents infection with only a few of the viruses that can cause flu-like symptoms, it isn't a guarantee against getting sick. However, if someone who's gotten the shot gets the flu, symptoms usually are fewer and milder.

Side Effects
Again, most people do not experience any side effects from the flu shot. According to the CDC, the flu shot rarely causes serious harm. Some of those vaccinated may have soreness or swelling at the site of the injection or mild side effects such as headache or low-grade fever.

If you do have symptoms after getting the flu shot, put a warm compress on the injection site to ease soreness or swelling, and take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for headache or low-grade fever. A common myth about the flu shot is that it can actually cause the flu.

The flu shot used in the United States is made from killed influenza viruses, which means that it's impossible to catch the flu by receiving the shot. However, because the nasal spray flu vaccine is made from live viruses, it may cause mild flu-like symptoms, including runny nose, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, and fever.

Ways to Prevent the Flu from Spreading
There's no guaranteed way -- including being vaccinated -- to prevent anyone from getting the flu, but precautions that can help protect you and your family include:

  • avoid large crowds whenever possible
  • practice good hand washing
  • never pick up used tissues
  • never share cups and eating utensils
  • stay home from work or school when someone is sick with the flu
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
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304 N Pokegama Avenue, Grand Rapids, MN 55744
Telephone: (218)326.2635  •  Toll Free: 1.800.326.2635  •  Fax: (218)326.2526
Our store hours are: Monday-Friday 8:30am - 6:00pm  •  Saturday 8:30am - 4:00pm