CLINTON — The Iowa Department of Public Health reports the number of Iowans becoming ill with influenza has increased dramatically over the past two weeks.

State officials are encouraging people who have not received a flu vaccination to get a vaccine now to protect themselves and their families. The flu season in Iowa has been relatively mild up to this point. The season is peaking much later than normal and the Iowa Department of Public Health believes the illness will be widespread across the state within the next few weeks.

Flu vaccines are still effective even when the flu has already been reported in the community.

The flu is a contagious disease that is caused by the influenza virus. It is spread when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes or speaks and sends the virus into the air and other people inhale it. Using tissue when blowing your nose, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, washing your hands and staying home when you are ill will greatly reduce the spread of the virus.

The flu usually comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. People who become severely ill with flu-like symptoms should contact their physician immediately. Complications from flu can occur at any age. Each year, about 1,000 Iowans die of influenza/pneumonia. However, a great majority of Iowans who get the flu recover completely with no lasting effects.

Genesis VNA (Clinton County Public Health) has flu vaccine available for those people who have not yet received the vaccine for this flu season.

There is a $25 fee for the flu vaccination. Medicare B recipients receive the vaccination at no charge, but must bring their Medicare card to receive the vaccine. Medicaid does not cover the cost. Call 242-7165 In Clinton and (563) 659-5548 in DeWitt to schedule an appointment to a your vaccination.