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Health

Health Experts Push Iowans To Get Flu Shot As COVID-19 Hospitalizations Increase

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Health experts are encouraging Iowans to get their annual flu shot this year as COVID-19 hospitalizations reach record high levels this year.

Health officials are urging Iowans to get their annual flu shot as the state’s hospitals battle the most recent wave of COVID-19 infections.

According to state health officials, 642 Iowans were hospitalized for COVID-19 as of last week, the highest number of hospitalizations reported this year.

Nola Aigner-Davis, the spokesperson for the Polk County Public Health Department, said it’s incredibly important that Iowans get their flu shots this year because hospitals are also seeing an increase in patients who are acutely sick.

"What I mean by that is, they waited awhile, they may have delayed care, delayed medications because of the virus," she said. "The sicker are getting sicker, so it's important that you take all of the prevention steps to take care of you that is get a flu shot, get a COVID-19 shot."

Aigner-Davis said 142 people were hospitalized in Polk County hospitals as of last week.

"So then you think about coupling that on top of COVID in the hospital, this is something that our healthcare system cannot handle." she said.

Aigner-Davis said it's still early to determine how active flu viruses will be this season, but she said she's concerned this season could be more active than last season's as fewer people are practicing COVID-19 mitigation strategies like wearing masks or social distancing.

She said heading into this flu season, hospital staff are already feeling burnt out.

"We cannot handle this. Our hospitals are full," she said. "Our healthcare staff are tired, burnt out both physically and mentally. We cannot do this to our community. So that is why it's so incredibly important for our community to get vaccinated for the flu."

Anyone age 6 months or older can receive the flu shot.