MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some people trying to get a flu shot this week are being turned away.

With COVID-19 concerns and regular flu season warnings, health care providers say they’re seeing an unprecedented demand for flu vaccines.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you should get one by the end of October.

Pharmacist Katie Haas says right now is the peak of flu shot season at her workplace, Setzer Pharmacy in St. Paul.

“As a pharmacist, I recommend that you get vaccinated every year,” Haas said. “I think people are probably more concerned because of COVID-19, and that’s probably why we’re seeing a higher demand.”

The pharmacy is out of the higher-dose vaccine recommended for people 65 and older. Haas says a new shipment should be coming in a few weeks.

HealthPartners is in a similar situation. They won’t have any of the higher-dose vaccine until Oct. 7, saying, “This year we’ve seen an early and unprecedented demand for the vaccine from our patients over the age of 65.”

Allina Health says it faces shortages of the higher-dose vaccine at some of its clinics. More than 20,000 doses of the stronger vaccine are on the way next week.

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“Just because you’re 65 and up doesn’t mean you have to get the high dose, but of course that’s designed for that population specifically,” Haas said. “At the end of the day, it’s better to get a flu shot than not.”

Mary Rubbelke of St. Paul gets a flu shot every year.

“I should get one because there’s a lot of bugs going around, and if I can stay healthy, I want to stay healthy,” Rubbelke said. “I don’t want to compromise my immune system.”

Linda Laman, also of St. Paul, has never gotten a flu shot. She says she won’t because she knows someone who had a violent reaction once.

The CDC says vaccines can have side effects like fever, but rarely cause seizures. And the flu vaccine can’t give you the flu.

“You’re not just helping yourself [by getting a flu shot], you’re benefiting the population as a whole,” Haas said.

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