• MercyOne physicians concerned by rising flu and COVID-19 infections, lower flu vaccinations

    • Share:
    December 21, 2021
    Across Iowa and the U.S. flu vaccinations are significantly lower than a year ago. This is concerning to MercyOne physicians and providers, who advise all eligible people age 6 months and older to receive a flu shot.
    With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations once again rising, controlling flu cases is expected to play a key role again in keeping health care resources available. The CDC currently reports increasing COVID-19 and flu activity in most of the country. MercyOne infectious disease specialist Dr. Ravi Vemuri 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,” said Dr. Vemuri. “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.”
    "I highly encourage everyone who is eligible to get their influenza vaccination,” said Jeffery Sander-Welzien, infection preventionist from the Eastern Iowa region of MercyOne. “It is the best way to protect yourself and those around you from getting influenza and becoming severely ill.”
    Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) data shows Iowa flu vaccination is down. Presently, 28.7% of Iowans ages 6 months and older are vaccinated compared to 38.5% receiving flu shots for the 2020-2021 flu season. The current influenza vaccination rate in Clinton County is 24%, compared to 32.2% for the 2020-2021 flu season.
    With holiday gatherings ahead, MercyOne is confident in the safety of the flu vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Receiving a flu shot can help prevent getting sick with the flu.  While a flu infection is still possible, the vaccine can help reduce symptoms and the need for hospitalization.
    MercyOne primary care providers are good resources for your vaccine questions. If you or your child have a scheduled appointment you can also ask to receive a flu shot. If you’re already scheduled to receive another vaccination, including an initial COVID-19 shot or booster shot, you can receive a flu shot safely at the same time. Check with your provider for more information. If you need to establish care with a primary care provider, request an appointment online.

    Jennifer Faley, Marketing Coordinator
    faleyja@mercyhealth.com, (563) 589-8112