DES MOINES — The Iowa Department of Public Health reports cases of the flu have surfaced in Iowa and encourages everyone 6 months of age and older to get flu shots.

“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, those around you and your family and friends from getting the flu,” IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said.

Year-round surveillance conducted by the IDPH through the Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network shows cases of the flu have begun appearing in different parts of the state among every age group.

“It’s clear Iowans need to be vaccinated now to ensure they don’t get the flu this year,” Quinlisk said.

None of the cases that have surfaced so far have been in North Iowa, a spokeswoman for the IDPH said Friday.

“However, when surveillance sites in other areas of the state see cases, we assume it’s everywhere.”

All the strains reported so far are influenza A strains. Nationally, the strains that are showing up match this year’s vaccine, the health department spokeswoman said.

This year’s vaccine includes protection against two influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus.

The vaccine is widely available and in plentiful supply.

Karen Crimmings, RN, disease prevention and investigation service manager for the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health, said Friday that no cases of flu had as yet been reported in the county.

“But since it’s in Iowa, it will be a matter of time before we see individuals with flu symptoms,” she said.

The flu is surfacing early this year, Crimmings said. “We’re encouraging people to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.”

She said the county health department has run out of the high-dose flu vaccine for people 65 and older. A new shipment is expected in the middle to latter part of next week.

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 are also encouraged to get the flu vaccine as they have about a five times greater risk of becoming very ill if they get the flu while pregnant or immediately after delivering.

Pregnant women who are severely ill with respiratory infection have an increased risk of pre-term labor.

In addition, women who are vaccinated while pregnant pass protection against the flu onto their baby for about the first six months of life.

To schedule an appointment for the flu vaccine with the Cerro Gordo County Immunization Clinic, call 641-421-9321.

Cost is $23 for the standard flu vaccine; $25 for FluMist, for ages 2 to 49; $25 for new intradermal vaccine, using a tiny needle, for ages 18 to 64; and $41 for the high-dose vaccine.

The clinic is open 10 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is open until 6:30 p.m. the first Monday of the month, including Monday, Oct. 1.

The Immunization Clinic will also be open from 9 to noon Saturday, Oct. 20.

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