KIMT News 3 – State health officials are urging residents to get their annual flu shots now ahead of influenza season.
Although activity is currently low, Iowa’s influenza season typically starts in November and peaks in January or February, according to an Iowa Department of Public Health news release.
“Since it takes up to two weeks after vaccination for the body to develop full protection against the flu virus, being vaccinated now means you’ll be protected before the flu starts spreading and for the rest of the flu season,” said IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that out of the 150 flu viruses collected by U.S. laboratories, 92 percent were shown to match one of the four strains included in this year’s seasonal influenza vaccine.
“What that means for Iowans is that if you get a flu shot this year, you’ll be protected from almost all of the flu strains going around this season,” said Quinlisk.
Health officials recommend that everyone over 6 months of age receive the flu vaccine. They say it’s especially important for some people to be vaccinated against influenza because they are at higher risk of developing serious complications, like pneumonia, if they get sick with the flu. These groups include:
- Pregnant women, who health officials say protect themselves and the newborn with the vaccine
- Children, especially those younger than 2
- Older adults, especially those 65 and over
- People who have certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease
The flu is a respiratory illness caused by viruses and typically lasts two to seven days. The flu comes on suddenly and may cause severe illness or even death, even in otherwise healthy people.
The “stomach bug,” which causes diarrhea and vomiting, isn’t caused by the influenza virus but usually by a different virus called “norovirus.” The flu vaccine will not protect against that illness.
For more information about Iowa influenza tracking and monitoring, visit idph.iowa.gov/influenza/reports.