The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates around 79,400 Americans died of influenza during the 2017-18 season. The flu hospitalized or killed more Americans than any seasonal flu in more than 40 years.
Public health officials have also found that influenza vaccination rates among adults dropped in recent years, leading some experts to conclude low vaccination rates were a contributing factor to making the 2017-18 seasons the deadliest in recent memory.
In Iowa, the CDC estimates vaccination rates dropped to 43.6 percent this past season – the lowest rate in eight years. The previous season, the rate was 49.1 percent.
Iowa deaths and hospitalizations
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 271 Iowans died during the past flu season, more than double the prior season. In addition, 1,890 Iowans were hospitalized last season for influenza-associated illnesses, most were aged 65 and older.
While a smaller number of influenza cases have been confirmed throughout Iowa this season, Iowa Medical Director and State Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati recently said, “As wonderful as the holidays are, they tend to increase opportunities for sharing illnesses. Part of the reason for that is we all get together, we travel, we’re in close quarters with each other, we’re interacting with each other more – and that’s exactly how a virus makes its move. It moves between people who are near each other. “
Time remaining to get vaccinated
It’s not too late to get vaccinated for the 2018-19 flu season. Simply walk into the Red Rock Healthcare clinic in Pella or any of the Knoxville Hospital & Clinics locations during normal business hours to get yours.