The director of the Iowa Department of Public Health says you can beat the flu outbreak that’s hit other states hard by getting a flu shot now. Dr. Mary Mincer Hansen called the news conference Monday to announce the first confirmed flu case of the season has been detected in a 22-year-old man from Northeast Iowa. While that in itself is not a major event, she says it is a signal that the flu is here and a reminder that you can prevent it. She says the flu season appears to be coming early and hard. Texas and Colorado have already had big outbreaks, and she says all the states around Iowa have reported cases. Dr. Hansen says there’s also some concern among the public about the Texas outbreak.She says a strain in the Texas outbreak is slightly different than the strains covered by the vaccine, and she says it has some more severe systems. She says the Centers for Disease Control has determined the current flu shot is close enough to the Texas strain that it should cover it. Hansen says they want to remind everyone that a flu shot is an easy way to beat any problems. She says influenza is a serious illness that can affect large portions of the population and you shouldn’t risk your health of the health of your family by not getting the shot. Hansen says they checked state death records and found 25 of them linked directly to the flu in Iowa last year. Tom Boo, a doctor with the C-D-C that’s working in Iowa, says that total doesn’t come close to covering the impact of the flu.He says that’s a “gross underestimation.” He says influenza and pneumonia are linked together and he says often it’s hard to tell after someone has died if their death started with the flu. Boo says the deaths linked to the flu are likely in the thousands. The C-D-C says 36-thousand people in the U.S. died from influenza last year. Hansen says certain groups are more at risk than others. Hansen says they people over the age of 50, those with compromised immune systems, and health care workers to get immunized. She says the shots are also recommended for children six months to 23 months. Hansen says some people believe it’s too late to get a shot, but she says that’s not the case. She says the peak season for flu is usually December through March, so you have plenty of time to be protected. Hansen says it takes about two weeks after getting the shot for it to provide protection. And she says contrary to what some believe, a flu shot will not make you sick.
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