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The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced in a press release the first flu-related deaths of the 2019-2020 influenza season.

One was an older adult (61-80 years old) Central Iowa woman, and the other was an elderly (81-plus years old) Northwest Iowa woman. Both women had underlying conditions or contributing factors.

Flu activity in Iowa has increased to local spread this week, indicating that the virus is present in Iowa communities.

IDPH Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati says these deaths are an unfortunate reminder that flu can be a serious illness: "The flu virus does have the potential to cause severe illness and death, especially in the very young, very old, or those who have underlying health conditions. This is a great time to get the flu vaccine to prevent yourself and your loved ones from becoming sick before flu activity increases further.”

The CDC recommends that essentially everyone over 6 months of age should receive the flu vaccine.

It takes up to two weeks after vaccination for the body to achieve full benefit against the flu virus.

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The flu is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. Symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days, and often puts healthy people in bed for days.

To learn more about influenza in Iowa, visit http://idph.iowa.gov/influenza. Contact your health care provider or local health department to find out where the vaccine is available in your community, or use the Flu Vaccine Finder: https://vaccinefinder.org.

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