FLU OUTBREAK: More Iowans Hospitalized

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In Iowa, 151 people were hospitalized with the flu during the last week of December. That number more than doubles totals from the previous week.

"This looks like it's going to be a really bad flu year," said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the Health Director for the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Despite warnings from top state health officials about the severity of this flu season, Iowans aren't exactly knocking down the door to get their flu shots.

"We've been seeing less people get vaccinated here than in previous years," said Sarah Boese, the Health Educator for the Polk County Health Department.

Over the lunch hour, the waiting room remains empty at the Polk County Health Department.

Boese blames misconceptions about the illness.

"They think it's just a sore throat or an upset stomach when in fact, it's an upper respiratory disease," Boese told Channel 13 News.

Ray Hansen knows better.  He came in to get vaccinated after a run in with the flu last year.

"I was out for five days. I basically couldn't get out of bed. It was all the goodies including, sickness, the flu, the fever," said Hansen.

With a simple nasal mist, Dr. Quinlisk says patients like ray will be best protected during a season expected to last longer than usual.

"We may see the flu season last to the end of March and into April," Dr. Quinlisk said.  

Unfortunately, there is no magic cure.

However, for those with greater health risks like the elderly, children, and people with heart conditions, Quinlisk says products like Tamiflu may slow down the disease if you catch your symptoms right away. 

"If you start feeling lousy today, you'd need to go in by Thursday morning at the latest," said Dr. Quinlisk.