The leaves are starting to turn color, the harvest is underway, and that means flu season isn’t far behind. Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director, Patricia Quinlisk says it’s never too early to prepare yourself to fight the flu.
She says the best time to get the shot is whenever you can get it now that fall is here, as the vaccine lasts from nine months to one year, so you will be protected for the whole season.
Dr. Quinlisk doesn’t expect anything out of the ordinary for this year. Quinlisk says they are seeing the same basic strains of the flu they’ve seen the last couple of years, and the H-1-N-1 strain is still circulation. She says the vaccine this year does include H-1-N-1 and it’s particularly important for children to get vaccinated as it tends to hit them pretty hard.
Quinlisk says anyone over six months of age should get a flu shot, but there’s no way to tell how many people actually follow that advice. Quinlisk says it’s hard to tell how many people get shots because they are available in a lot of places, but she says Iowa always ranks high in the estimates of the number of shots given.
If you work a job where you have a lot of interaction with others, then you’ll likely be more susceptible to the flu. She says anyone who sees a lot of people, such as in a store, will be more vulnerable. Quinlisk says school age kids are the most vulnerable because they often don’t do a good job of covering their mouths when they sneeze.
An estimated 300,000 Iowans gets the flu every year and together, flu and pneumonia are one of the top 10 causes of death in Iowa.
For more information on influenza, visit the Department of Public Health’s website here: www.idph.state.ia.us/Cade/Influenza.aspx?pg=FluHome .