State health officials are encouraging healthy Iowans who want protection from the flu to take the new “flu mist” vaccine that’s available. Mary Mincer Hansen, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, held a news conference early this afternoon. Hansen says she won’t downplay the risk of the flu, or overestimate it. She says while some people will get seriously sick from the flu, the vast majority who get it will recover without any damage to their health. Hansen says while the supply of the flu shot are low or gone, there are an estimated 10 million doses of the flu mist available nationwide, and many insurance companies have decided to now cover the flu mist. Hansen says flu mist is a nasal spray that became available for the first time this flu season. She says as the name implies, it’s a nasal spray. It’s recommended only for health people between the ages of five and 50. The flu mist is way more expensive than a flu shot. A flu shot costs about 15 dollars. The flu mist costs up to 80 bucks. There is no rationing of flu shots, but Hansen hopes more Iowans who are healthy and between the ages of five and 50 will opt for the flu mist rather than insisting on getting a flu shot. Some insurance companies that covered the flu shot but not the flu mist are now covering the more expensive flu mist, and the state’s Medicaid program will also cover it now. To find out where the flu mist is available, check the website www.iarx.org.
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