It’s not too late to get a flu shot, according to nurse Jeni Stiles at the Cerro Gordo County health department. Stiles suggests other ways to protect yourself from the bug.
“When you’re out and about in the community, you’re touching all kinds of things that a lot of other people have touched,” Stiles says. “Don’t touch your face, your nose, your eyes and your mouth with your hands. Make sure you’re washing your hands frequently. If you’re not feeling well, stay home, so we’re not spreading it to others.”
Stiles says Iowans may mistakenly fool themselves into believing they just have a cold. “A lot of the time, people might think it’s not influenza they have, they can have fever, body aches, sore throat,” Stiles says. “Generally, when you look at the flu compared to a cold, the flu is going to be more severe. Influenza can put a healthy person in bed.”
Flu shots are recommended for anyone from age six months and up. This year’s flu vaccine covers three and four different strains, while there’s also the FluMist which is sprayed in the nose. If you think you’re coming down with something, a fast trip to your physician may help.
“There is a medication that they can give you in the first 48 hours that can decrease the symptoms or the severity of it for you,” Stiles says. “That’s important and then too, knowing you’re not spreading it, you’re not taking it into your workplace, you’re not taking it into the schools and the day care centers.”
She notes, the flu can be devastating especially to young people and older adults. At least three Iowa children died from the flu last season. The state health department doesn’t track adult flu deaths.
(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)