He said the season started early and is "probably peaking right about now", causing a rapid increase in flu-related doctor visits and hospitalizations. That caused concern for some groups, including the province's Medical Association.
But that is more due to a delay in confirmation of flu-related deaths. That's well above the 106,000 shots given out in the 2016/2017 season.
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There haven't been any deaths of our youngest Iowans, which is a sign that parents are vaccinating early on in childhood.
A total of 456 of those cases required hospitalization. Annual hospitalizations range from 140,000 to 710,000 and deaths are estimated between 12,000 and 56,000 each year.
"Students all being in classrooms together, between A&M and Blinn, we are anxious about it", said Kristen Christian, the Director of Emergency services for CHI St. Joseph.
This increase comes at a time when hospital workers are scrambling to deal with an ongoing shortage of intravenous fluids used to deliver medicine and treat dehydrated patients.
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By comparison, at this time a year ago, there was only one flu-related death and none in the 2015-16 flu season. And 20 children have died from the flu so far this season. The symptoms of body aches, fatigue, and respiratory symptoms are especially severe, leading more people to seek hospital treatment.
It's no secret by now that the flu vaccine is not a good match with the H3N2 flu strain that is dominating the season.
Many flu seasons don't really get going until around Christmas, and don't crescendo until February.
"Someday, of course, we hope to have a universal flu vaccine, one that attacks all influenza type viruses and provides protection that lasts for years", Fitzgerald said. "Stay at home if they have the flu or flu-like symptoms and to avoid contact with others". Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. While it is possible that flu season peaked around the holidays and illnesses will gradually decline, it is also possible that the flu season could get even worse in 2018 before it gets better.
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Frequent and thorough hand-washing with soap and warm water. Data from the provincial report showed the vaccination rate in the province has climbed a measly 1% from 19%, but it's not too late.