Published on August 11, 2021

National Immunization Awareness Month puts flu, COVID vaccines in the spotlight

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, putting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the forefront for many. The two shots are important as students prepare to return to school. 

The annual observance is especially important this year after many people delayed their immunizations due to the COVID pandemic. Kelsey Nefzger, Essentia’s immunization program manager, says there are several safety protocols in place to ensure patient safety when visiting one of our facilities.

“We have taken extreme measures to make sure our patients and health care workers are safe,” Nefzger said. “We strongly urge parents and guardians to get children their vaccinations so they can help prevent getting a disease or significantly decrease the severity if they do catch something.”

Nefzger adds many patients are behind on their vaccinations as people prioritized the COVID vaccine over others. According to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, it is safe to receive multiple vaccines at the same time you receive the COVID vaccine. Thus, those wanting to get a COVID shot and the flu vaccine can do it simultaneously. Please note that the flu vaccine will be available through Essentia Health beginning Sept. 1.

“Flu vaccines will be really important this year as people return to normal life,” Nefzger said. “The flu could be more widespread compared to last year when people were masking, quarantined and so many of the places where people gather in large groups were closed.”

Staying up to date on your immunizations protects not only yourself, but those around you.

“By getting vaccinated you are not only protecting yourself, but those who can’t be vaccinated — immunocompromised patients, children who are not old enough to get certain vaccinations or don’t have access to them,” said Nefzger.

Children age 12 and older are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine. Anyone 6 months and older is eligible for the flu vaccine. Contact your primary care provider for more information and best practices on all other vaccines.

Patients can schedule all of their vaccinations at most of Essentia’s facilities in Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. If you are unsure which vaccines you need, your immunization record can be accessed by using the MyChart patient portal or by requesting them through your state health department.