Some Iowa doctor’s offices are already stocked with the new version of the flu vaccine and this year, only one shot will needed, not two. Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, state epidemiologist and medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, says it will be more convenient to get the single shot with full coverage and the price should stay the same.

When there’s a new strain of virus, it’s usually combined with the seasonal flu shot the following year and Quinlisk says that’s exactly what they’ve done this time. She says, “When you get your flu shot in the fall, it will contain H1N1 as well as two other strains of seasonal flu.”

For Iowans who got knocked out by influenza last year, be it seasonal flu or the H-1-N-1 strain, Quinlisk says they might want to check in with their doctor or clinic to see if the shot is in stock yet — and if so, get vaccinated. “In normal years, we typically will see the first couple cases of flu in early December,” Quinlisk says.

“Of course, since last year with H1N1 showing up early, and that’s the one we expect to come back, it may well show up a bit early this year. We’re telling people, get your flu shot as soon as it’s available.” She says if your doctor, clinic or county health department doesn’t have the vaccine yet, it should arrive soon.

“Some are already starting to receive it and if they have not received it this week, they may have it by next week,” Quinlisk says. “This year, we’re really trying to push those school-aged kids to go in and get their flu shots since we know that the H1N1 strain of the flu hits children really hard.” She says it’s never too early to get the flu shot.

She says the flu shot is usually effective for nine months to as long as a year, so if you get vaccinated in late August, it should take you well into next spring, which is how long the flu season typically lasts. Health officials say the H1N1 strain killed 41 Iowans last year and sent more than 650 to the hospital.