The flu is already affecting more people than last year and Iowa is now considered as part of the wide spread epidemic. In Iowa it is 3 times higher than a typical year even though the peak isn’t expected for several months yet. The number of hospitalizations due to influenza in the month of December due to influenza was over six times what it was last year.
There are things you can do to protect yourself though. First and foremost, get a flu shot if you haven’t done so already. The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older, and is especially important for children under five, people over 65, and anyone else with a pre-existing medical condition.
The flu virus mutates year to year, so the strain that’s affecting us this year is not necessarily the same strain from previous years. That’s why it’s important to get a flu shot every year. Flu vaccines are made differently each year to help counteract the effects of strains that are going to be prevalent during that particular flu season.
HOMEWARD Public Health offers flu clinics Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $25 for the influenza vaccine injection, $35 for the FluMist® intranasal influenza vaccine, $45 for a high-dose vaccine (seniors 65 years of age and older) and $75 for the pneumonia vaccine. HOMEWARD accepts cash and checks. Medicare Part B covers flu and pneumonia vaccinations. You must present your Medicare card at the time of service. No appointment is necessary. If you have questions, call the HOMEWARD flu hotline at 515-233-7577.
It’s important to note that the flu vaccine protects against certain strains of the flu, so it is still possible to become sick even with the vaccine. If this does occur though, the vaccine has the capability to lessen the severity of your symptoms. Below are some other things you can do to protect you and your family from the flu. These, in addition to the flu vaccine, could make for a much healthier winter.
•Wash your hands often with soap and water.
•Use hand sanitizer for those times when you are unable to wash your hands.
•Stay home from work and keep children home from school when they are sick.
•Stay away from others you know are ill.
•Clean frequently and appropriately, especially if someone in your home has been sick.