The 2012-2013 Iowa influenza season began earlier, peaked earlier, and was more severe than recent influenza seasons, particularly for people 65 years and older. What will the upcoming flu season be like? No one can predict that, but one thing is certain: your best defense against getting the flu is an annual vaccination.
The best time to be vaccinated is now. While outbreaks can begin as early as October, most of the peak flu activity happens in January or later. “Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body to receive the full protection from the flu virus, being vaccinated now will mean you’ll be protected before the flu starts spreading in your community,” said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. Every Iowan over 6 months of age should receive the flu vaccine and it’s especially important for some people, because they are at higher risk of developing serious complications, like pneumonia, should they get sick with the flu:
- Pregnant women
- Children, especially those younger than 2 years of age
- Older adults, especially those aged 65 years and over
- People who have certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease
This year, there are a variety of flu vaccine options available, including a trivalent vaccine (that protects against three different flu viruses), a quadrivalent vaccine (that protects against four flu strains), and a vaccine for those who are allergic to eggs. In addition, the vaccine is available as a ‘regular’ flu shot, nasal spray, and intradermal shot that uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot and is injected into the skin, instead of the muscle. You should consult with your health care provider to see which option is best for you.
For more information on the kinds of flu vaccine available this year, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm. For more information about Iowa influenza tracking and monitoring, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/Cade/Influenza.aspx.