DES MOINES, Iowa – Health officials are recommending people receive flu vaccines by October first.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the 2017-2018 flu season was the first to be classified as high severity in all age groups across the country.
High severity refers to high influenza-related hospitalization, high levels of outpatient clinic and emergency department visits for the disease.
Polk County Health Department Health Educator Nola Aigner said the flu season can begin as early as October and go through May.
“People think that if they get the flu shot they are going to get the flu. Chances are if you got the flu shot and you got the flu, you had the flu ahead of time,” Aigner said.
It takes 10 to 14 days for the vaccine to take full effect in the body. The vaccine is good for one year.
Aigner said the flu was widespread across Iowa during the 2017-2018 season.
There are two types of vaccines people can receive for the 2018-2019 season.
The trivalent vaccine targets three strains of the flu, while the quadrivalent targets four strains.
“Now if you are over the age of 65, there is something called the high dose flu vaccine. As we age, our immune system weakens. This shot has triple the antigens in it, so it gives a better immune response to the flu,” Aigner said.
Aigner said scientists monitor predominant flu strains each year to modify the vaccine.
“The flu is a smart virus, and what I mean by that is it’s constantly changing. One year it might be a great match to what is in the flu vaccine, and other years we may see it drift a little bit,” Aigner said.
According to the CDC, there were 180 pediatric deaths reported during the 2017-2018 flu season, breaking a record set back during the 2012-2013 season.
People can receive a flu vaccine at many pharmacies, their doctor's office, the Polk County Health Department and more.