Iowans urged to get flu shots; current vaccination rate ‘woefully inadequate’
Flu vaccination rates are significantly lower than they were a year ago across Iowa and the U.S., which is raising concerns for physicians, MercyOne said in a statement Friday. The health system advises all eligible people age 6 months and older to get a flu shot. Iowa Department of Public Health data shows 28.7% of Iowans ages 6 months and older have been vaccinated so far this year, compared with 38.5% by mid-December for the 2020-2021 flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently reports increasing COVID-19 and flu activity in most of the country. Dr. Ravi Vemuri, a MercyOne infectious disease specialist, is concerned Iowans are not remaining vigilant. He reminds everyone the flu can result in serious complications, including death, at all ages. “In 2020 we essentially had no influenza season because we were practicing COVID-19 mitigation measures, like masking, and had significant increases in influenza vaccinations,” he said. “This year, most mitigation measures are not being practiced and large gatherings have resumed. So far, influenza vaccination rates are woefully inadequate to provide community protection.” Iowans should contact their primary care provider or pharmacy for additional vaccine information and an appointment.