Winneshiek Medical Center has seasonal influenza vaccines available to the public in Mabel. Influenza vaccines are offered through two venues this year: Community Flu Clinics and through appointments with a health care provider.

Anyone, age 9 or older, may receive the influenza vaccine at the Walk-In Community Flu Clinics, set in Mabel on Thursday, Oct. 17, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Mabel Clinic, located at 114 Main St. South. Only the injection form of the vaccine will be given at this clinic.

The vaccination cost at the Community Flu Clinics is $25 and is payable at the time of service. Winneshiek Medical Center will accept cash, check, credit card or Medicare cards at the Community Flu Clinic. No private insurance cards or Medicare Advantage Plans will be accepted to cover the cost. No appointments are needed.

Mabel Clinic will offer the influenza vaccine Monday-Friday, between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.; call for an appointment or simply walk in and request a flu shot.

Both injection and mist forms of the vaccine are available, and private insurance cards will be submitted for this service at the patient's request. Call (507) 493-5115 to schedule an appointment.

The influenza virus is always present in our environment, but its peak times are between September and late March. Receiving the vaccine at this time will provide increased immunity to seasonal influenza.

All people 6 months and older should receive the vaccine, unless they are allergic to eggs, egg products, or to any component of the vaccine; anyone with a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) or anyone who is sick or has a fever - the vaccination should be rescheduled.

It is especially important for pregnant women to get vaccinated because of their increased risk for influenza-related complications. Pregnant women can get vaccinated during any trimester, including the first.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 5 percent and 20 percent of the U.S. population develops influenza each year, leading to more than 200,000 hospitalizations from related complications and about 36,000 deaths. Seasonal influenza vaccines have a long and successful track record of safety and effectiveness in the United States.