DES MOINES, Iowa — The Polk County Health Department is urging people to get a flu shot due to their concern that after two years in the battle against COVID-19, the flu could come back stronger than ever. Though the Health Department says the flu season is unpredictable.

“Epidemiologists in the United States look at Australia’s flu season to predict what we might see in our upcoming flu season,” said Helen Eddy, Polk County Health Department Director in a news release. “Australia has had their worst flu season in the last five years, cases peaked months earlier and we could easily see the same in Iowa and the United States. Our community should take this information seriously and get a flu shot to protect themselves and their family.”

At UnityPoint, there is advice when getting multiple shots for flu and booster shots.

“We have a lot more information than we did when we first brought the COVID vaccine out,” said Nurse Practitioner, Janae Brown, of UnityPoint. ”What we’ve learned is that side effects and immune response do not change. If you give the COVID vaccine and flu together, along with your other immunizations you might need. So it’s very safe, go ahead and get your flu and COVID shots together if you need to.”

This past week the Polk County Health Department began offering flu shots by appointment, from 9:00 to12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

“It is especially important to get a flu shot as COVID-19 cases continue in Polk County,” said Eddy. “Our hospitals and clinics are still short staffed and caring for individuals who are very sick. Get a flu vaccine to continue to keep our community healthy and allow our healthcare workers to take care of those who need help.”

“The people that we’ve given the new COVID booster to seem to be doing great,” said Brown. “We haven’t had a lot of complaints. I think it will really help us going into the winter season, so get it.”

To get an appointment for a flu shot at the Polk County Health Department, you can call (515)323-5221. Or visit their website. You can also get a flu or COVID booster shot at your health care provider’s practice or local pharmacy.