Beginning Monday, all Iowans will be eligible to receive an H1N1 flu vaccination. State Medical Director Patricia Quinlisk says those at highest risk of complications were given top priority when the vaccine was in short supply. Now, there’s a bigger supply and anyone who wants a shot should be able to get one.
“There are only a few people that can’t get the vaccine. For example, children under six months of age are still too young to get the vaccine. They just don’t have a mature enough immune system to respond to it,” Quinlisk said.
“So, all of those people who are around children six months or younger need to get vaccinated to protect those young people.” In addition, people who are allergic to eggs should not get the vaccine. To date, 36 Iowans have died from complications of H1N1 – including two children.
Doctor Quinlisk says H1N1 activity in the state has slowed in recent weeks, but she expects it to pick back up after the new year. “What we’ve typically seen in the past when we’ve had pandemics is that there’s a wave in spring and we saw that here in Iowa. Then, a wave early fall when the children go back to school – and we’ve seen that. And then, there’s very often a third wave at the time of which typically seasonal flu virus is going around and for Iowa, that’s usually January and February,” Quinlisk said.
Iowans who are immunized now, Quinlisk says, will be protect against the possible third wave of the illness. “So, people can go and get the vaccine now to protect themselves for any traveling or being around traveling people over the holidays…and also so they have protection during that time in January and February when we expect to see H1N1 come back and perhaps be quite active again,” Quinlisk said.
For a list of public H1N1 vaccination sites and clinic times, visit: www.idph.state.ia.us/webmap/default.asp?map=h1n1_vaccine_sites