Des Moines, IA) – Each year, flu season is unpredictable and severe. The past several years we have seen mild flu seasons. Other flu seasons, such as when the H1N1 and H2N3 strains appeared, we saw healthy individuals, those with underlying health conditions, the young and old become sick, hospitalized and even die. This year, we could possibly be in for a rough flu season.
“Epidemiologists in the United States look at Australia’s flu season to predict what we might see in our upcoming flu season,” said Helen Eddy, Polk County Health Department Director. “Australia has had their worst flu season in the last five years, cases peaked months earlier and we could easily see the same in Iowa and the United States. Our community should take this information seriously and get a flu shot to protect themselves and their family.”
Flu (influenza), like COVID-19, is a contagious respiratory illness that disproportionately affects adults ages 65 and older, young children, pregnant women and individuals with chronic health conditions. However, they are not the same viruses and it is very possible to get both illnesses at the same time as cases continue to rise. If individuals are sick with either the flu or COVID-19, they should contact their healthcare provider to be tested to determine what illness they have and to receive guidance on how to treat the illness. Individuals should stay home from work, school or running errands until they are feeling better. The flu shot is recommended for everyone ages six months and older annually and should receive the vaccine by October. When individuals are getting their flu shot, they should also use the opportunity to make sure they are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. Flu and COVID vaccines may be administered at the same time.
“It is especially important to get a flu shot as COVID-19 cases continue in Polk County,” said Eddy. “Our hospitals and clinics are still short staffed and caring for individuals who are very sick. Get a flu vaccine to continue to keep our community healthy and allow our healthcare workers to get care of those who need help.”
Starting Monday, September 19, 2022, Polk County Health Department will begin administering flu vaccine Monday through Friday 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM. Appointments are required; please register for your appointment at: https://www.immunizepolk.com/. Face masks are required.
The Polk County Health Department will also be hosting community flu based clinics to give residents multiple opportunities to get their vaccine. Visit https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health-department/clinical-services/seasonal-flu/ to find the schedule.
Most major insurance plans are accepted. Do not forget to bring your insurance card to the clinic. Fluzone high dose, a flu shot specifically designed for individuals 65 years and older will be $65. As individuals age, their immune system weakens over time. Fluzone high dose provides a higher dose of antigen in the vaccine and is designed to give older people a better immune response, and therefore, better protection against the flu. The cost for a quadravalent flu shot for individuals 6 months through 64 years without insurance is $25. Please wear a mask to all flu clinics.
The Polk County Health Department has a call center specifically dedicated to providing assistance to individuals who do not have the ability to access the internet or a computer. Our call center team is able to work with individuals who do not speak English. Call center hours are Monday - Friday from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM. Call center team may be reached at (515) 323-5221.
Nola Aigner Davis, Public Health Communications Officer September 19, 2022
515.286.3848 (office) ⋅ 515.782.7236 (cell)