High-risk persons should not forego flu shot

With the shortage of flu vaccine this season, the Minnesota Department of Health is getting reports of high-risk individuals who are eligible for the vaccine, yet deciding to forego a flu shot this year. For example, a healthy 72-year-old male decides that someone else is more at risk than him, and skips getting the vaccine when he has an opportunity.

Individuals who are eligible to get the vaccine are being urged to become vaccinated. Being over the age of 65, or being an infant between the ages of 6 and 23 months, automatically makes you eligible. A community member, adult or child, who has one of the following chronic medical conditions would be eligible for the vaccine:

• Heart disease

• Lung disease including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

• Metabolic disease including diabetes and liver disease

• A weakened immune system due to chemotherapy, steroids or HIV infection

• Blood disorders including sickle cell anemia.

• A child (6 months – 18 years) who takes aspirin on a regular basis

• A pregnant woman

If you live in a household with a child less than 6 months of age, or are a caregiver for such an infant, you are also eligible for the vaccine. To reserve injectable vaccine for those who need it most, these individuals are encouraged to seek out the FluMist nasal spray.

If you are not in one of the high risk categories, you should not seek vaccine even if you have high cholesterol, arthritis, dermatitis, high blood pressure, a cancer history, epilepsy, a thyroid condition, multiple sclerosis, Down Syndrome and other developmental disorders.

There will be a large upcoming flu vaccinations clinic, sponsored by the Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association and Scott County Public Health. This clinic will serve individuals 9 years of age and older, and any pregnant woman beyond the first trimester. The cost for the vaccine is $16 if not covered by Medicare or insurance. Bring your Medicare or insurance card to the clinic.

This clinic will be held from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15, at the Park Ballroom, 300 Lexington Ave. S. in New Prague. For more information call 952-496-8555. (Do not call the Park Ballroom.)

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