It's late summer, hot and humid, so you might think it's too early to get vaccinated against influenza.
No way, say health officials, who are beginning to line up 2014-15 flu vaccination programs.
"Get vaccinated as soon as possible," Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said Thursday. "Just get it, get it when it's convenient for you."
And don't worry about the vaccine's effectiveness expiring before the end of flu season. Quinlisk, the medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, said several studies by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, have shown that immunity from the flu vaccine lasts at least about nine months and most likely a full 12 months.
Quinlisk also is an epidemiologist, meaning she studies patterns of diseases with the goal of reducing public health risks. Like her, the federal CDC recommends that most Americans get vaccinated once flu vaccine doses are made available.
The state health department will begin shipping vaccine supplies in the next week or two, Quinlisk said.
Area Walgreens stores began to offer flu vaccinations in their pharmacies Tuesday. Just outside the Quad-Cities, the flu shot already is available through the Henry and Stark County health departments, which announced Thursday that their shipments of the seasonal flu vaccine had arrived.
The shot is available at clinic offices in Kewanee and Colona, Ill. Also, the health departments' staff will be going out for an extensive number of community and work-site flu clinics beginning in late September, said RaeAnn Tucker, the director of health promotion for Henry and Stark counties.
One of the largest vaccination programs in the area is Flu-Free Quad-Cities, which inoculates thousands of schoolchildren in Clinton, Scott and Rock Island counties. That program will begin Oct. 6, said Michele Cullen, the community health manager for Genesis Health System. Last year, the program distributed 8,000 shots.
Public flu shot clinics will begin Sept. 15, Cullen said.
It's suggested that older Americans get a "high-dose" variety of the vaccine because that seems to offer better protection, Quinlisk said.
Studies also show that younger children seem to do better with a flu vaccine taken as a mist through the nose. Children younger than 7 years need to get at least two doses of the vaccine, if they have not been vaccinated before, she said.
All individuals older than six months are encouraged to get the vaccine because it is the best-known protection against the flu.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and, at times, can lead to death, according to the CDC.
Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe, the CDC says. Over a period of 30 years between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of 49,000 people.
Influenza and pneumonia are among the 10 top causes of death in the United States.