Sheldon, Iowa — It’s autumn — that means flu season is on the way. The Iowa Department of Public Health urges everyone age 6 months and older, to receive a flu vaccine. Surveillance shows cases of influenza have already begun appearing in the state among every age group and in different parts of the state.
We talked with Rick Nordahl, CEO at Sanford Sheldon about getting your flu shot. He says he thinks there are misconceptions out there when people talk about the flu.
He says influenza is not the stomach flu, but an upper respiratory infection, and it’s that infection that is prevented by the flu shot.
Health officials say influenza is like a bad cold, usually accompanied by fever, aches, chills and exhaustion. Nordahl says the best prevention for influenza is a flu vaccine.
He says they are offering flu vaccinations on Monday nights from 4 to 6 PM, by appointment. They accept Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance, and it’s normally covered. Bring your ID card. They’re also offering flu shots on Friday, October 26 from 8 to noon, Thursday, November 8 from 1 to 4 PM, and Monday, November 12 from 4 to 6 PM.
Nordahl says this year has been an unusual year for the flu.
He says summer was more active this year. Coverage for a normal, healthy person lasts for a year. He encourages everyone to get their flu shot so they don’t miss school, work, or other activities.
He says that the Sanford Sheldon medical center staff themselves are trying to make sure 100 percent of staff members have had a flu shot, unless they have a valid medical reason not to. He says it’s very important they protect their patients.
He says other Sanford clinics run by Sanford Sheldon are giving the flu vaccination as well.
He says flu shots are also available at the Sanborn, Hartley, and Boyden clinics.
Plus, HyVee, Lewis, and O’Brien County Public Health are giving the vaccinations as well. In the outlying areas, call your local hospital, community health clinic or public health department, as almost all of them are providing flu shots. Even many pharmacies are making the vaccinations available.
Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says that this year’s vaccine includes two influenza As and an influenza B virus. If you received a flu vaccine last year, you still need a vaccine this year so you are protected against this year’s circulating viruses. While all Iowans age 6 months and older should receive a flu vaccination, parents of children with underlying medical conditions (especially neurological disorders) should ensure their children are vaccinated because they are very vulnerable to the flu and its complications.
Pregnant women have about five times higher risk of becoming very ill if they get influenza while pregnant or immediately after delivering. Pregnant women who are severely ill with respiratory infection have an increased risk of pre-term labor. Years of data show the flu vaccine is safe and effective for pregnant women, and can be given at any point in the pregnancy. In addition, women who are vaccinated while pregnant pass protection against the flu onto their baby for about the first six months of their life. And that’s important as babies younger than six months old may not receive a flu shot.