The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services is reminding Iowans to focus on healthy habits this fall and winter to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. With the Thanksgiving holidays fast approaching, Iowans should get vaccinated for the flu and stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines as well as following simple routines for staying healthy.
"It’s common this time of year to see an increase in respiratory infections – which we are seeing nationwide and in Iowa. In particular, we are seeing increasing rates of RSV and influenza cases. We want Iowans to remember the tools, including getting vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19, we have to keep ourselves and our families healthy this fall and winter, especially as the weather cools and holidays approach,” said State Medical Director Dr. Robert Kruse.
COVID-19 and flu vaccines are safe, effective, and can lower the risk of illness and protect against severe complications. Staying up to date on your vaccines – both a yearly flu vaccine and an updated COVID-19 vaccine – is the best way to make sure you and your family are protected.
Even if you have not been able to get vaccinated yet, the CDC still recommends you do. Benefits of the vaccine last up to six months, which will help protect you from illness when the flu most commonly peaks in February, and through May when significant cases of flu can take place. There are no vaccines currently available to prevent RSV, although multiple products are in late stages of clinical development. RSV prevention primarily means practicing basic hygiene.
Practical Tips to Stay Healthy:
- Get vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Clean high touch surfaces in your home frequently with household disinfectants.
- Practice hand hygiene frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or hand sanitizer.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or if a tissue is not available, cover them with upper shirt sleeve, not a hand.
- Avoid social gatherings if you or your children are ill.
- Keep children home from daycare or school who have fever, especially with a cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, congestion, runny nose, or sore throat, until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medications that reduce fever.
By getting vaccinated for both influenza and COVID-19, we can also help prevent avoidable hospitalizations and help preserve health care resources for other needs, including illnesses, injuries and emergencies. Iowans with questions about vaccines for themselves or loved ones consult with their health care provider.
Iowans should not visit the Emergency Department for cold and flu symptoms, sore throats, ear infections, minor burns or injuries, sprains and strains, rash or other skin irritations. Contact your pediatrician or healthcare provider if you or a loved one needs medical care. Your provider can offer advice on whether your child needs to be evaluated in person, tested for COVID-19 or flu, and the best location for care.
“I would also remind Iowans that antibiotics will not treat colds, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many sinus and ear infections. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in the U.S., and the main cause of this problem is the misuse of antibiotics. Antibiotics will cure bacterial infections, such as strep throat, urinary tract infections, or whooping cough – but not the viruses we are observing to be on the rise right now. Another great reminder that these simple routines and practices above are the best defense for staying healthy,” added Dr. Kruse
Find a vaccine provider here: or https://www.vaccines.gov/.
Additional Flu and COVID-19 Vaccination information:
- Vaccinate your children ages 6 months and older against influenza as soon as possible.
- Vaccinate your children ages 6 months and older against COVID-19; children 5 and older who had their primary series more than 2 months ago should receive an updated COVID-19 booster as soon as possible.