By Tim Krohn
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — For those of you a bit shy of needles, this year can bring a new, less painful experience to getting a flu shot.
The micro needle injects the vaccine just under the skin, rather than into the muscle where it can cause pain for some people for hours after the shot.
“I had the micro needle shot and it was really slick,” said Marcia Bahr, with the public relations department at Mankato Clinic. “It hurts bad just for a second and then it doesn’t hurt at all.”
Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato also uses the new micro-needle shot. Both health-care groups also have nasal spray flu vaccine.
Patients can call the clinics for vaccination appointments or request a flu vaccination during a visit with their primary health-care provider.
And Bahr said all the Mankato Clinic specialty offices are set up for giving flu shots. “So even if someone goes in to see the ophthalmologist, the nurse will ask them if they want a flu shot.”
Many pharmacies offer flu shots on a walk-in and/or appointment basis. The vaccines cost around $30, with Medicare and other insurance generally accepted. (The pharmacies may not all use the micro needle, so call to inquire if that’s a concern.)
Annual vaccinations are recommended for nearly everybody, except babies under 6 months and those with severe allergies to the eggs used in the vaccine.
Government figures show that last year 52 percent of children and just 39 percent of adults were immunized.
Three-quarters of tots ages 6 months to 23 months were vaccinated. That’s a significant jump from the previous year when 68 percent of those youngsters were immunized.
And even though seniors are at especially high risk of severe illness or death if they catch the flu, only 66 percent of them were immunized last year.
Last year was one of the mildest flu seasons on record, but health officials say there is no way to predict what this year will bring.
Two new strains of influenza have begun circling the globe, and the updated vaccine appears to work well against them.
Strains from the H3N2 family tend to be harsher than some other flu types, and a new H3N2 strain is included in this year’s vaccine because it is circulating in parts of the world.
Only one ingredient in this year’s flu vaccine was retained from last year’s, protection against the H1N1 strain that caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Also new in this year’s shot is protection against a different type B strain.
To schedule a vaccination appointment at Mayo Health call 877-412-7575.
To schedule a vaccination at Mankato Clinic call 625-5027.