Flu ‘Widespread’ in Iowa; Health Officials Encouraging Flu Shots

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Department of Public Health says it is now seeing widespread and intense flu activity across the state.

The predominate strain being reported in Iowa right now is influenza B, and 17 people have died from the virus this year.

Health officials say the best way to protect yourself is to get the flu shot, and it is never too late to get one. It typically protects you from three to four strains of the flu. Health officials want to clarify you won't actually get the flu just by getting the shot.

"Sometimes we might get low-grade symptoms after we get the flu shot, so we might get a low-grade fever, we might feel achy, but that's because your body is building that immune response," said Nola Aigner Davis, public information officer with the Polk County Health Department.

Children have very vulnerable immune systems and one metro school district is going above and beyond to try and prevent students and staff from getting sick. The Ankeny School District purchased eight Clorox 360 machines to constantly disinfect each school.

"We know that this machine that we are utilizing gets the sides, it gets the tops, it gets the bottoms, it gets everywhere. If somebody came in with a rag and a spray bottle, they're just going to get that surface that they are touching. They're not going to get all those other areas," said Brian Sharp, maintenance and operations supervisor for the Ankeny School District.

School officials say it is actually working.

"Just talking to one of our school nurses, she could tell from last year to this year the decline in absenteeism and you know that's our goal. We want the kids to be there, the students to be there every day so that they can learn," said Sharp.

The Polk County Health Department says flu season is really starting to ramp up and it could last until as late as May. You can still get your flu shot at several places such as Hy-Vee, Target, your doctor's office as well as the Polk County Health Department.

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