MINNEAPOLIS — It’s here! The 2019-20 influenza season is underway. Minnesota state health officials are rolling out media campaigns to encourage people to get a flu shot as soon as possible. The MN Department of Health (MDH) advises everyone who is six months of age or older to get vaccinated.

During last year’ flu season, 2,522 Minnesotans were hospitalized due to the flu and its complications. Two children were among the 126 influenza-related deaths. Flu outbreaks were reported in 381 schools and 60 long-term care centers.

Vaccine supply

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there will be plenty of flu vaccine available this year. The CDC says manufacturers will provide between 162 million and 169 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market.

Flu vaccine is already available at clinics, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and some grocery stores in Minnesota. Most require proof-of-insurance in order to be vaccinated. People who prefer to pay with cash will find a variety of prices depending on the retailer.

Free or low-cost flu shots

Help is available for people who don’t have insurance or have policies that don’t cover the cost for flu vaccinations. Find a no-cost flu shot by using this link from the MN Department of Health. Note: While the vaccination may be free, recipients may be asked to pay an administration free and/or a fee for the office visit.

Minnesota also has a Vaccines for Children program. MnVFC provides free or low-cost vaccinations for children age 18 and younger. Learn more about that program with this link

Types of flu vaccine

There are six basic kinds of flu vaccine available this year.

  • Trivalent vaccine protects against three strains of influenza: two A strains and one B strain.
  • Quadrivalent vaccine protects against four strains of flu: two A strains and two B strains.
  • High-dose vaccine is for persons 65 and older.  The vaccine covers four strains and produces a stronger immune response in older people.
  • Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV) is better known by its brand name FluMist®. This four-strain vaccine is administered via nasal-spray instead of a needle.  It contains a weakened ‘live’ virus that stimulates the body’s immune system. It is only approved for people ages 2 through 49 years. Additional restrictions apply.
  • DNA technology (RIV) and cell-based flu vaccines do not use eggs in the manufacturing process (like traditional flu vaccines.) These types of vaccines are recommended for people with severe egg allergies. It is more difficult to find these types of vaccine in retail settings.
  • Flu vaccine with adjuvant is approved for persons 65 and older. The vaccine that contains an adjuvant (a booster) which helps create a stronger immune response.

Know Your Numbers Flu shot season

This information is provided by Health Fair 11 as part of its Know Your Numbers Campaign.  Health Fair 11 is a non-profit organization that operates with the support of KARE 11 TV and UCare. Learn more at www.HealthFair11.org. To find out how your organization can become an official Health Fair 11 sponsor, email healthfair@kare11.com .

Resources used for this article

MDH Flu Stats – 2018 

MDH Vaccine for uninsured or undersured residents      

MN Vaccines for Children program 

CDC flu season guidelines