People can protect themselves from the flu with a vaccine, but that's not yet the case with COVID-19. Both carry similar symptoms, which is why health officials are urging people to get a flu shot this year.

"If physicians can eliminate (the flu) for people with certain symptoms, the better they'll be able to respond and treat people before they become seriously ill," said Kari Etrheim, communications coordinator at Olmsted County Public Health.

For the first time, people will be able to able to get vaccinated with drive-thru service. That setup is proving popular so far, she said.

Numerous clinics and organizations are offering flu shots throughout Southeast Minnesota.

Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester has a drive-thru clinic in a tent in the parking lot of the Northwest Clinic, 5067 55th St. NW. Drive-thru hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. No appointment is needed. OMC patients can also schedule an appointment with their primary care provider. That will be open through Oct. 30.

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Mayo Clinic offers shots at the 41st Street Professional Building, 4111 West Frontage Road Highway 52 NW, first floor, Suite 320, by appointment. Mayo patients can also schedule shots with their primary care physician. Shots will be available from Oct. 12 through Dec. 18.

Hy-Vee Pharmacies are offering flu shots in multiple Minnesota locations, with drive-thru shots available through Oct. 31. Drive-thru hours are: Monday, 7 to 11 a.m.; Thursday, 3 to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. No appointment is needed.

Olmsted County Public Health has drive-thru clinics scheduled Oct. 7 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and Oct. 9 from 1 to 4 p.m. at 2100 Campus Drive SE. No appointment is needed. People are asked to bring their insurance cards or $21 cash if no insurance will be billed. High-dose vaccines are available for people 65 or older. Influenza vaccine for children without insurance or covered under MNSure is available for ages 12 to 18.

Elsewhere, flu shots are available at the following locations:

  • Cub Pharmacy, 1021 15th Ave. SE, appointments are scheduled online.
  • CVS Pharmacy, 4611 Maine Ave. SE and Marketplace Drive Northwest, by appointment.
  • Goodhue County is holding a series of flu shot clinics. Registration is recommended, but not required.
  • Pine Island Cheese Factory, Monday (Oct. 5) from 3 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Cannon Falls, St. Ansgar’s Lutheran Church, Oct. 13, 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Goodhue, Lions Club, Oct. 13, 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Zumbrota, United Redeemer Church, Oct. 19, 3:30 to 6 p.m.
  • Kenyon, location to be determined, Oct. 22, 3 to 6 p.m.
  • Winona Health is holding multiple vaccine clinics at Winona Health, Winona Fire Station and the Winona Aquatic Center throughout October. Shots are available in Winona every day in October. See www.winonahealth.org/community-flu-vaccination-clinics for a complete schedule.
  • A clinic at the St. Charles Community Center will be held Oct. 15 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.
  • Shots are available at the Lewiston Community Center on Oct. 22 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.
  • A clinic will be held in Dakota at the community center there on Oct. 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.