Finding a needle in the haystack


The H1N1 outbreak appears to have calmed down, so we temporarily return our attentions to the seasonal flu, which is expected to reach its yearly high sometime in the next month or two. The attention given to the H1N1 has lead to increased awareness and use of vaccinations, both for the seasonal flu and the novel H1N1 strain.

We are closing in on the traditional peak time of the seasonal flu. It is not too late to get vaccinated, so with that in mind I conducted a quick search for the nearest location offering a vaccine. The MN Department of Health’s website turned up one location offering seasonal flu shots within 10 miles of my house, and within a week, I widened my search to 20 miles and found that a clinic in Woodbury has daily walk-in flu shots available now. After changing my search to 100 miles, one more clinic came up, offering one day of flu shots.

I then did some quick research with the retail clinics such as CVS, Walgreens, and Target. The Walgreens website told me there are no Walgreens near me that offer the vaccine. CVS’ Minute Clinics also have no locations in Minnesota offering the seasonal flu shot. There are local Target clinics that have seasonal flu shots available according to the Google Flu Shot Finder, but it is advised to call ahead to make sure you get up-to-date information.

Although a seasonal flu shot is possible to locate, they are few and far between. Walk-in clinics could mean long waits, and some of the clinics with available vaccinations may be far away. For many it is difficult to find the time to drive 20 miles to a clinic and then have to wait for a long time once there. The inconvenience of locating a vaccine and finding the time to get vaccinated does not mean that it is not important to consider getting the shot. The seasonal flu does not have the novelty and excitement of the H1N1, but it is not without consequence. Every year more than 200,000 people are hospitalized due to the flu and 36,000 Americans die each year from flu complications, and let us not forget about the thousands who have to stay home sick from work or school.

So do yourself, your friends, neighbors, and co-workers a favor and get a flu shot. If you can find one.