ROCHESTER, Minn. - With the spread of the delta variant, masks are coming back into style and talk of vaccinations is as abundant as ever.
With influenza season quickly approaching, the COVID-19 vaccine is not the only vaccination that should be on our radar.
"I think it's time to talk about vaccines in general," said Public Health Nurse Manager Leah Espinda-Brandt. "Because of the pandemic, many people missed their routine vaccinations."
Espinda-Brandt said through the pandemic, there has been a decrease in routine back-to-school vaccinations.
In addition, this influenza season may look a little different than last year with fewer mask mandates and social distancing.
"The flu is a different disease than COVID," said Espinda-Brandt. "And, they have very similar symptoms, and so we want to prevent the flu which will also impact the resources that we are using for the COVID vaccine - or the COVID disease. We're spending a lot of resources in the hospitals getting people vaccinated, testing that type of thing. So, if we can minimize the flu, that will help impact the burden on the healthcare system."
Hy-Vee stores are offering drive-thru vaccine clinics Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"This past year and a half, we've done everything we can do to try and stay healthy," said Pharmacy Manager Audra Rinard. "And getting a flu shot this year is one of the best things you can do. So, today is the very first day of our drive-thru shots - we'll show you how easy it is."
As of last Saturday, Hy-Vee is also offering a free, third dose of the COVID-19 vaccination to those who are immunocompromised.
"We know that Olmsted County already has a very high percentage of COVID-vaccinated community members," said Espinda-Brandt. "But we're not stopping. We'd like to have 100-percent."