Respiratory illness season typically lasts from early fall to mid-late spring. However, respiratory illnesses, like flu, COVID-19, and RSV can be contracted and spread any time of year.
To protect you and your loved ones from respiratory illnesses, you can:
- Get vaccinated, if available (i.e., updated COVID-19, flu, and RSV) - to find a vaccination location near you, visit vaccines.gov.
- Follow the 3 Cs: cover your cough and sneezes, contain your germs by staying home when sick, and cleaning your hands.
If you have any questions about respiratory illnesses, including vaccine recommendations or risk of health effects, contact your healthcare provider.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This virus can be very contagious and spread very quickly. COVID-19 often causes respiratory symptoms, similar to the flu and pneumonia. It's also important to know that you can have COVID-19 and spread it without having any symptoms.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is important that if you are diagnosed with the virus, you follow the appropriate isolation guidelines.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you should stay home for five (5) days and isolate yourself from others in your home, as you are most likely infectious during your first five days of getting the virus. On days 6-10, individuals who have improving symptoms may return to normal activities but should wear a mask.
To end isolation, you should follow the guidelines for determining when you can resume normal activities. This should be based on your symptoms.
In 2023, an updated COVID-19 vaccine was recommended for all individuals over 6 months of age. Most people will need a single dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine to be considered up to date.
Those over 65, who are immunocompromised, or children under the age of 5 may be recommended additional doses. You can discuss your vaccine recommendation with your healthcare provider.
Most private insurances and Medicaid/Medicare will cover the cost for the updated COVID-19 vaccine. For those who are underinsured or uninsured, Linn County Public Health and Eastern Iowa Health Center are part of the Bridge Access Program, which is federal support to provide the updated COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. You can schedule a vaccination appointment at the Linn County Public Health clinic by calling 319-892-6093 or contacting Eastern Iowa Health Center to schedule an appointment at their location.
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Those who are 65 and older, young children, and people with certain health conditions may be at high risk complications from the flu.
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot every season. Flu shots are especially important for those who may be at high risk of complications from the flu.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Infants and older adults can have severe illness and may even require hospitalization.
RSV Vaccine & Antibody Treatment
The RSV vaccine is available to individuals over 60 years of age. Those who want to get vaccinated should talk to their healthcare provider to determine the best option.
For children, there is a RSV preventive antibody (generic name nirsevimab, trade name Beyfortus) that is a shot administered to prevent RSV disease in infants and young children. Currently, there is a low supply of the long-acting monoclonal antibody, for passive immunization to prevent RSV-associated lower respiratory tract disease among infants and young children. Please talk to your healthcare provider for more information.