Cases of the flu continue to climb in Iowa as spot shortages of the flu vaccine are being reported around the state. Iowa Department of Public Health medical director Patricia Quinlisk confirms the availability is dwindling, but it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
“If you get the shot today, you’ll have a little bit of immunity and tomorrow, a little more,” Quinlisk said. “Depending on how your system responds, you could have full immunity in a week to two weeks.”
Last year’s mild flu season prompted some hospitals and other flu vaccine vendors to order less this year and now those locations may be out or have limited supply. But, the vaccine is available.
“People always have to try and predict how many people are going to come in and want the flu shot. In general, there is plenty of vaccine out there, it may just be the one place you try – they may not have it,” Quinlisk said. “There should still be plenty available in the community, you may have to try a couple of places, but you should be able to find the flu shot.”
Many Iowa hospitals are busy because of the flu outbreak. In Des Moines, a group of hospitals issued a press release urging residents to avoid visiting emergency rooms for non-emergent medical care. The release states the hospitals are experiencing “heavy volumes of patients and long wait times due to a large number of flu cases.”
Des Moines Hospitals Ask Community to Utilize Local Clinics and Urgent Care Centers
(Des Moines, Iowa) — Local emergency rooms are currently experiencing heavy volumes of patients and long wait times due to a large number of cases of influenza, resulting in increased admissions at metro hospitals. In order to ensure access for the seriously ill, and to protect patients and health care staff, Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines (Central, West Lakes and Franklin campuses), Iowa Health – Des Moines hospitals (Methodist, Lutheran, Blank Children’s and Methodist West) and Broadlawns Medical Center are asking community members to refrain from visiting emergency rooms for non-emergent medical care.
Individuals experiencing non-life-threatening illnesses who need to see a doctor today and are unable to get an appointment with their primary health care provider are encouraged to seek treatment from a local urgent care or walk-in clinic. Information regarding local clinics can be found online at www.broadlawns.org, www.iowahealth.org and www.mercydesmoines.org. A listing of free clinics is also available at www.idph.state.ia.us or the public can contact their County Health Department for additional information.
In an effort to protect patients, families and health care staff, visitors to Mercy Medical – Des Moines and Iowa Health – Des Moines facilities will be limited. These restrictions are temporary for the flu season and are subject to change as necessary. The visitor limitations include:
- No more than two visitors at a time.
- Visitors need to be 18 years of age and older.
- Exceptions may be made for cases involving critically-ill patients or end-of-life situations.
The following guidelines should be used in order to help prevent the spread of illness:
- Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizing gel frequently.
- Remember to cough and/or sneeze into your arm or shoulder or use a tissue. The spread of germs can be reduced by coughing into your clothing. Avoid covering your mouth with your hands, as the germs can easily be passed through direct contact with surfaces or people.
- If you are treated by a doctor, be sure to ask how long it will take until you no longer pose an infection risk to others.
- If you have not already received the flu vaccination, contact your local health care provider or County Health Department to make arrangements to receive the vaccine.
The Des Moines area hospitals remain ready and available to answer any questions and provide medical services should you need them. Thank you in advance for your assistance during this busy time.