Mayo Clinic Health System will begin offering flu vaccines across Southwest Minnesota in October to patients 6 months and older.

Now more than ever, Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend all people 6 months and older get flu vaccinations to protect themselves and others from getting the flu.

“This year, it is doubly important that everyone get the flu vaccine because if people have fever and respiratory symptoms in the fall, the first concern is going to be COVID-19,” says Priya Sampathkumar, M.D., an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic. “The symptoms of the two diseases are hard to tell apart. If you get the flu vaccine, you are less likely to get the flu and less likely to be thought of as a possible COVID-19 case.”

Self-scheduling flu vaccine appointments online through Patient Online Services or the Mayo Clinic App is recommended. These convenient self-service options also prevent wait times on the phone and preserve resources for COVID-19. In addition, patients can ask to receive a flu vaccination during an existing appointment with their primary care provider.

Patients also may call 1-877-412-7575 (toll-free) to schedule an influenza vaccine appointment at one of these locations:

  • Belle Plaine: 700 W. Prairie St.
  • Fairmont: 800 Medical Center Dr.
  • Janesville: 312 N. Main St.
  • Le Sueur: 625 S. 4th St.
  • Mankato: Madison East Center, 1400 Madison Ave., evening and Saturday hours available
  • Montgomery: 501 Fourth St. NW
  • New Prague: 212 County Rd. 37
  • St. James: 1101 Moulton and Parsons Dr.
  • St. Peter: 1900 N. Sunrise Dr., Suite 200
  • Waseca: 501 N. State St.
  • Waterville: 212 E. Lake St.

Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, have respiratory symptoms, or are under quarantine should delay flu vaccination until they are no longer ill or their quarantine period is over.

To self-schedule for patients between 6 months and 12 years of age, a parent or guardian will need to schedule this appointment using caregiver access to the child’s Patient Online Services account. Patients ages 13–17 will need to have their own Patient Online Services accounts to directly schedule flu vaccination appointments. When making an appointment, note that children 6 months through age 8 need two flu vaccines if it is the child’s first seasonal flu vaccination. The second vaccine is given at least four weeks from the date of the first.

The cost of seasonal flu vaccine is covered by many insurance plans. Mayo Clinic Health System will bill insurance or accept payment.

Like COVID-19, influenza is a virus that causes respiratory illness, and symptoms can range from mild to severe or life-threatening in children and adults. However, the two illnesses are not the same, and the CDC website outlines the differences.

The CDC recommends that providers use any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine during the 2020–2021 season.

After vaccination, it takes about two weeks to develop antibodies to protect against the flu, which is why early fall vaccination is recommended. If you are sick, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading illness to others.

For additional information on the flu, visit the Mayo Clinic Health System website.