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Low number of flu cases in Iowa this year is thanks to anti-COVID efforts

DES MOINES — While there’s a near-constant focus on COVID-19, state health officials say flu activity is very low in Iowa this year.

Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the state medical director for the Iowa Department of Public Health, says the state’s low flu numbers are due, in large part, to the measures the public is taking to slow the spread of coronavirus.  “If you think about the fact that if we really do these good things, keep that distance, use a face mask, wash your hands, stay home when we’re sick, that can really keep a variety of viruses from moving among us,” Pedati says.

At the start of flu season last year, public health experts expressed concern about the strain the respiratory virus could have on a health care system already dealing with many coronavirus cases, but COVID-fighting efforts ended up providing a dual benefit.  She says, “If you think about it, all of those good public health practices help protect you from a variety of similar viruses that can move that way, which includes flu.”

Pedati says the number of Iowans who have received a flu shot this season is comparable to previous years, while those who have not yet received a flu shot are still able to do so.

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