The Iowa Department of Public Health is reminding you again to get vaccinated against the flu after seeing an increase in cases among kids. Department medical director, Patricia Quinlisk, says they don’t keep track of every case of the flu, but have certain facilities that they track.
“We had our numbers go up over 50-percent just in the children alone just in the last week. And we know that the children, particularly in the smaller rural communities are really the ones who spread flu in that community,” Quinlisk says. “And so if we can stop the children from spreading it, not only will they not get the flu, but we know that it will protect grandma and grandpa and the guy who has heart disease, etcetera. So we want to remind people that it’s particularly important to get children vaccinated.”
Dr. Quinlisk says this year’s flu poses a triple threat. “All three strains of the flu that could have come to Iowa have already gotten to Iowa and are spreading. The good news is of course, that all three of those strains are found in this year’s flu vaccine. So,if you get the flu vaccine it will cover you for all three strains that are out there right now,” Quinlisk says.
“If you don’t get vaccinated, the chance is that you could get all three strains of the flu, because if you get one type, it does not protect you against the other two types.” The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone over six months of age.
“And since children younger than six months of age just are too young to get the vaccine, we want to protect them by doing two things — making sure that their moms get vaccinated when they are pregnant– which means not only will they not get the flu, but they will pass on some of their immunity before the child is born,” Quinlisk says.
She also says everyone who is around the young child should vaccinated so they do not bring the flu to the child. Adults and children can be scared of getting a shot, but Quinlisk says there are now options that are less painful. “Now there is the mist that is basically a squirt up the nose. And there’s also a very small needle flu vaccine that basically puts the vaccine through a very small needle into the skin. So if you are somebody that just doesn’t like needles, well you can still get vaccinated,” Quinlisk explains.
Beyond getting a flu shot, Quinlisk says remember to practice the three Cs: Cover your coughs and sneezes; Clean your hands frequently; Contain germs by staying home when you are ill.