Don't hesitate vaccinate!
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) joins national health officials in urging all Iowans, age 6 months and older, to receive a flu vaccine. Influenza is not a 'reportable disease' in Iowa, which means doctors are not required to notify IDPH each time a patient tests positive for influenza; however, IDPH conducts year-round influenza surveillance through the Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network. This surveillance indicates what types of influenza viruses are circulating and how widespread influenza illness is. Surveillance shows cases of influenza have already begun appearing in the state among every age group and in different parts of the state.
"Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, those around you, and your family and friends from getting the flu," said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. "We typically begin seeing flu cases in October, and because surveillance shows the virus is already circulating in the state, it's clear Iowans need to be vaccinated now to ensure that they don't get the flu this year. Don't hesitate vaccinate!"
This year's vaccine includes two influenza As and an influenza B virus. If you received a flu vaccine last year, you still need a vaccine this year so you are protected against this year's circulating viruses. While all Iowans age 6 months and older should receive a flu vaccination, parents of children with underlying medical conditions (especially neurological disorders) should ensure their children are vaccinated because they are very vulnerable to the flu and its complications.
Pregnant women have about five time's higher risk of becoming very ill if they get influenza while pregnant or immediately after delivering. Pregnant women who are severely ill with respiratory infection have an increased risk of pre-term labor. Years of data show the flu vaccine is safe and effective for pregnant women, and can be given at any point in the pregnancy. In addition, women who are vaccinated while pregnant pass protection against the flu onto their baby for about the first six months of their life.
The flu vaccine is widely available and in plentiful supply. For more information about the flu and the flu vaccine, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/Cade/Influenza.aspx?pg=FluHome.