Iowans are being encouraged to get their flu shots early this season as the upcoming flu season, coupled with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, could put a bigger strain on health care systems.

Shelly Jensen is an immunization nurse clinician with the Iowa Department of Public Health.  “Health care systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with flu and patients with COVID,” Jensen says, “so getting that flu vaccine this year is more important than ever.” Jensen says it’s still too soon to predict how severe this flu season could be.

She says it’s especially important for people with underlying conditions like diabetes, asthma or cancer to get vaccinated. Jensen says the vaccine is widely available, but distribution might look a little different this year because of the pandemic.

“There may be more drive-thru clinics,” she says. “It may look a little different at your doctor’s office. They may not have as many walk-in appointments.” The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone over the age of six months.

(By Natalie Krebs, Iowa Public Radio)