2010 Flu season outlook - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

2010 Flu season outlook

WATERLOO (KWWL)--- While everyone is concerned about recalled eggs and meat right now, last year the concern was H1N1. 

One year ago, more than 40 million Americans became infected with the H1N1 flu virus.  This year, the Centers for Disease Control says the outbreak of H1N1 appears to be over.  But seasonal flu is still cause for concern.

Experts are predicting that this flu season will  be mild compared to last year, when H1N1 caught everyone off guard by arriving early in the season.  And while the CDC says the pandemic H1N1 outbreak is now over, the virus could still be present, along with other strains of the flu.  So it's important to protect yourself.

Constant hand-washing was being practiced last summer as everyone tried to fend of H1N1.  Even though that bug doesn't look to be a big problem this year, at-risk groups, like senior citizens, are still concerned about seasonal flu risk.

"I will still get a vaccine.  I think it's just prudent to do that.  And I do carry hand sanitizer with me," said Jo Grover.

"I think we owe it to ourselves to be vaccinated so we don't have problems with ourselves and cause problems with anybody else," said Lorraine Axtell.

And health experts say they've got the right idea.  After all, even without major fears of H1N1, the seasonal flu still claims about 36,000 lives a year.

"I don't think really anyone shouldn't get a flu vaccine," said Dr. Brian Sims with Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare.

Flu shots are already starting to arrive at some clinics.  It's recommended that everyone over 6 months of age get immunized.  This year's vaccine will protect you from three strains of the flu, including H1N1.

"Last year, H1N1 really didn't obey any of the rules.  It came in October instead of December, January, February, before we were even able to vaccinate.  This season, should be a lot easier, since we have one vaccine for H1N1 and the regular seasonal flu," Dr. Sims said.

Good hygiene is still important to limit your risk.  And if you couple that with a shot, you'll get flu protection that could be life saving.

Flu shots will become more widely available in mid to late September.  And in late October, the University of Northern Iowa plans to offer at least 2500 free flu shots to students.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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