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VA urges flu vaccinations

To safeguard the health of America's veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs is urging all veterans, especially those enrolled in VA's health care system, to receive flu vaccinations this season.

Walk-in clinics, even drive-in clinics for the vaccinations -- which are free for veterans enrolled in VA's health care system -- are being offered at many of VA's 153 hospitals and more than 900 outpatient clinics. Veterans should check with their nearest VA health care facility to learn about local vaccination programs.

"Vaccination is a simple way of preventing serious health care problems, especially among the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and veterans with spinal cord injuries," said Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon H. Mansfield. "Part of VA's world-class health care service is ensuring veterans get their flu shots."

Veterans should discuss flu vaccinations with their primary health care provider. Physicians recommend flu vaccinations for pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, those at least 50 years of age, patients in long-term care facilities, and people who live with those at high risk for complications from flu.

A recent study by Dr. Kristin Nichol, a nationally recognized expert on the flu and chief of medicine at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, found dramatic reductions in deaths and sickness after getting a flu shot. Vaccination reduced hospitalizations for pneumonia or influenza by 27 percent, and there was a 48 percent reduction in deaths.

Veterans who are enrolled in the VA Medical system can receive their flu shots at the following locations and times:

St. Cloud VA

Building 8, Auditorium

• Oct. 19: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

• Oct. 20: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Max J. Bielke CBOC

515 22nd Avenue E. Alexandria

• Oct. 19: 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m.

• Oct. 29: 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m.

Brainerd CBOC

722 NW 7th Street Brainerd

• Oct. 21: 9 a.m. - Noon and 1-4 p.m.

• Oct. 22: 9 a.m. - Noon and 1-4 p.m.

• Nov. 5: 9 a.m. - Noon and 1-4 p.m.

Fargo VA Medical Center

3rd floor auditorium

• Oct. 13: 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

• Oct. 19: 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

• Oct. 28: 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

• Nov. 15: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

VA takes seriously the threat influenza poses to our veterans, our staff, our medical system and the health of the country as a whole. Influenza vaccination in VA is a priority.

Please see your local county veterans service officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by e-mail at As always, have a great week.