The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reminds north Iowans that getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu and its potentially serious complications. Flu season typically begins in late October or November. Since the vaccine takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop in the body, getting the vaccine now will offer protection when the season begins.
IDPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend everyone over 6 months of age get the flu vaccine. Studies have shown that even if you do catch the flu after being vaccinated, illness is less severe and serious complications are much less likely to occur.
Influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. It comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days, and often puts healthy people in bed for days. It is important that in addition to getting vaccinated, Iowans remember the Three Cs:
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Contain germs by staying home when ill
- Clean your hands with soap and water
There are also medications called antivirals that are sometimes appropriate for treating or preventing the flu and north Iowans can talk with their healthcare providers about these as needed. During the 2017-2018 season, there were 272 flu-related deaths in Iowa.
Because influenza is not a reportable disease in Iowa, doctors are not required to notify IDPH each time a case is diagnosed; however, IDPH conducts influenza surveillance that helps identify what strains of flu are circulating, how widespread illness is, and in what regions of the state illness is occurring. While cases of influenza are not reportable, influenza-related deaths are reported to IDPH. For more information on influenza, visit https://idph.iowa.gov/