Half of the flu vaccine that was supposed to come into the United States from Britain has been blocked, prompting State Health officials to ask Iowans who’re at low risk to not get a flu shot. State Epidemiologist Patricia Quinlisk says they’re spreading the word in the medical community. Quinlisk says the agency’s asking physicians and others providing flu shots to tell patients why they should not get vaccinated this year and ask them to defer their vaccine. Quinlisk says only people who’re at a high risk of getting the flu should get the vaccine. Those recommended to get the vaccine include children 6-23 months, people over age 65, anyone between two and 64 with underlying chronic medical conditions, women who’ll be pregnant during flu season, residents in long-term care and nursing homes, children on chronic aspirin therapy, healthcare workers giving direct patient care, and people who provide daycare or have household contact with babies under 6 months old. Health Department Director Mary Mincer Hansen says other types of prevention can protect you without a flu shot.People who won’t get a shot can reduce their risk by washing hands, covering your mouth when you sneeze, and if you’re sick staying home from school or work. Quinlisk says it’s important for people to think of others if they do get sick.Quinlisk says “you can be pretty sick for about a week” even if you’ve been in normal health, and while some may be sick a little less or a longer time, however long you are sick you should stay home since many around you won’t have been able to get a shot. Quinlisk isn’t sure how the lack of flu vaccine will impact the overall flu season. It’s always hard to predict, but for now they expect mostly the same strains of flu we saw last year, good news for those already vaccinated or infected who developed some immunity. She adds it’s a concern not being able to vaccinate everyone who should get the shots, and it could cause more illness than we might see otherwise. Quinlisk says the “flu mist” has come down in price and is also an option for people who don’t get a flu shot.
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