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Health News and Updates

Find updates on public health events and press releases.

Iowa HHS Announces First Flu Deaths of Season

Des Moines, IA - The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announces today the first influenza-related deaths confirmed as occurring during the 2022-23 influenza season: both elderly people (81 years and over) from northern Iowa with underlying conditions. The current flu season began on October 3, 2022.

Influenza strains, along with other respiratory viruses are circulating the state. The most recent HHS flu report shows the virus at a moderately high level of activity in the state. Iowa hospitals are reporting high patient admission rates. Iowans can help reduce the burden on hospitals and health care providers by taking a few simple precautions.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and our family from severe illness, hospitalization and death. Iowans should also follow simple practices to keep themselves and their family members healthy during respiratory virus season.

Practical Tips to Stay Healthy:

  • Get vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Clean high touch surfaces in your home frequently with household disinfectants.
  • Practice hand hygiene frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or hand sanitizer.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or if a tissue is not available, cover them with upper shirt sleeve, not a hand.
  • Avoid social gatherings if you or your children are ill.
  • Keep children home from daycare or school who have fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, or sore throat, and until they are fever-free for 24 hours without medications that reduce fever.

If you or a loved one is sick and needs medical care contact your pediatrician or healthcare provider. Your provider can offer advice on whether your child needs to be evaluated in person, tested for COVID-19 or flu, and the best location for care. Iowans should not visit Emergency Department for cold and flu symptoms, sore throats, ear infections, minor burns or injuries, sprains and strains, rash or other skin irritations.

Additional Flu and COVID-19 Vaccination information:

  • Vaccinate your children ages 6 months and older against influenza as soon as possible.
  • Vaccinate your children ages 6 months and older against COVID-19; children 5 and older who had their primary series more than 2 months ago should receive an updated COVID-19 booster as soon as possible.

Iowans with questions about vaccines should speak to their health care provider. Find a vaccine provider here: or

The monkeypox call center being run by the Iowa Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) will close on Wednesday, November 30, 2022. At this time, the call center’s
phone number will be disconnected. Questions related to Monkeypox may be directed to the Division of
Public Health’s main line at (515) 281-7689.

HHS Promotes Healthy Habits for the Holidays

November 16, 2022 -  The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services is reminding Iowans to focus on healthy habits this fall and winter to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. With the Thanksgiving holidays fast approaching, Iowans should get vaccinated for the flu and stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines as well as following simple routines for staying healthy.

"It’s common this time of year to see an increase in respiratory infections – which we are seeing nationwide and in Iowa. In particular, we are seeing increasing rates of RSV and influenza cases. We want Iowans to remember the tools, including getting vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19, we have to keep ourselves and our families healthy this fall and winter, especially as the weather cools and holidays approach,” said State Medical Director Dr. Robert Kruse.

COVID-19 and flu vaccines are safe, effective, and can lower the risk of illness and protect against severe complications. Staying up to date on your vaccines – both a yearly flu vaccine and an updated COVID-19 vaccine – is the best way to make sure you and your family are protected.

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Healthy Habits for Iowa Families

October 21, 2022 - The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announces two initiatives focused on healthy habits, nutrition and addressing food insecurity for Iowa families. “Though these programs have different goals and execution, helping Iowa families and communities lead healthier lives is deeply embedded in the HHS mission. Food insecurity, exacerbated by the rising cost of food and an increasing rate of obesity in Iowa drive the need for HHS to focus our attention on nutrition and health education. Through these programs, we reach Iowans in in 20 counties with programming that is collaborative, targeted and measurable,” said HHS Director Kelly Garcia.

Iowa Stops Hunger Pilot Program

Iowa Stops Hunger is a statewide initiative formed by Business Publications Corporation (BPC) in 2020 to bring awareness and inspire action to combat food insecurity in Iowa. With the support of Presenting Sponsor Hy-Vee and Supporting Sponsor Mom's Meals, Iowa Stops Hunger has explored hunger in Iowa, created ongoing media content and events to discuss food insecurity in Iowa, showcased actions taken by businesses, and connected participants from the business and nonprofit communities across the state. 

The dialogue generated throughout 2020 and 2021 sparked interest in further action. A small group led by Hy-Vee, Mom's Meals and HHS, facilitated by BPC, have joined forces in a public/private coalition to reduce food insecurity in Iowa through targeted programming. The Iowa Stops Hunger Coalition will launch a pilot program targeting women between the ages of 21-44 who are food insecure but may not qualify for SNAP, WIC or Free and Reduced Lunch programs. Many of these women are young mothers who are in the workforce at low-wage jobs or who have left the workforce, making this project of particular relevance to Iowa employers. 

The pilot project timeline is being finalized by the public/private coalition. Managed Care Medicaid providers Amerigroup Iowa, Iowa Total Care and Molina Healthcare will provide outreach and coordination of services with community-based nutrition partners including each of the Iowa area Food Banks. Hy-Vee and Mom's Meals will be providing coordination, food and nutrition education and support. BPC is assisting with Coalition facilitation and communications support. Iowa Medicaid will administer the pilot.

The program includes short-term food insecurity stabilization and resources and longer-term food and nutrition access and education. The pilot will focus on women ages 21-44 in eight Iowa counties who have indicated that they are experiencing food insecurity.

Counties include:

  • Clinton County
  • Polk County
  • Blackhawk County
  • Pottawattamie County
  • Des Moines County
  • Woodbury County
  • Linn
  • Jones

Participating counties were identified by HHS through analysis of screenings which showed a higher-than-average rate of food insecurity for residents. The selected counties represent a statewide cross section of rural and urban populations. An estimated 23,000 individuals are identified as part of the pilot. Specifically targeting moms with kids will help address the systemic challenges families often face.

5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count!

HHS also announces $265,000 in grants to 15 counties across Iowa through 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! — an evidence-based prevention framework for early care and education programs, K-12 schools, out-of-school programs and health care practices to encourage Iowa kids to adopt healthy habits.

Since 2017, the program has used five servings of vegetables, two hours of fun screen time, 1 hour of physical activity, and zero sugary drinks as a guide to encourage communities to find ways to eat healthy foods and increase physical activity. Past projects around Iowa include: a StoryWalk® installed at a local park in Scranton, expanded recreation offerings (snowshoes and disc golf set) for community members to rent in Sergeant Bluff and an installation of ADA-compliant water stations around Winterset. 

September 12, 20222 - (DES MOINES, Iowa) – The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today the distribution plan for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food assistance benefits for eligible Iowa children under the age of six.

The federal Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act allows states to issue emergency food assistance benefits to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households with children under the age of six who were impacted by pandemic-related school changes and closures in their area.

P-EBT for children under age six is limited to those children who received SNAP benefits between September 2021 and May 2022. The P-EBT benefits for children under six will be loaded on the household’s existing SNAP card between now and September 20.

The monthly amount for each eligible child is $22.01 for September 2021 through December 2021, and $21.15 for the months of January 2022 through May 2022. P-EBT benefits will only be distributed for those months that the child received SNAP.

“Food costs in Iowa hit historic highs in 2022, making it hard for low-income parents to meet the nutritional needs of their children. These additional benefits will make it easier for parents to put healthy and nutritious food on their table,” said Janee Harvey, HHS Division Administrator of Adult, Child, and Family Services.

Parents are encouraged to visit HHS’ comprehensive FAQ document available on the HHS website here for more information about P-EBT.  

The Iowa Department Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced the first case of West Nile virus infection reported in 2022, in a middle age adult (aged 41-60 years) from Buena Vista County. The case was confirmed through a test at the State Hygienic Lab.

Humans get infected with West Nile virus through a mosquito bite and being outside means there's a risk for West Nile virus infection. But we have easily accessible preventive tools like insect repellent, that can help keep Iowans safe from mosquito bites, which lowers the risk of West Nile infection.

In 2021, 6 Iowans were diagnosed with West Nile virus, with zero deaths. More information can be found here

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports today a probable case of monkeypox virus infection in an adult in North Central Iowa. There are NO cases in JONES county at this time. More information can be found here.

The Iowa Deartment of Health and Human Services (HSS) reports today a probable infection of Naegleria fowleri from the Lake of Three Fires in Taylor County, Iowa. The lake has been temporarily closed for testing. Infections remain rare and are NOT in JONES county. More information can be found here.

Updated Lake of Three Fires closure:  

With testing now complete, DNR will reopen the beach at Lake of Three Fires on Thursday, July 28, 2022, with signage informing swimmers of the presence of Naegleria fowleri and risk of PAM.

A fact sheet on Naegleria fowleri can be found here. A fact sheet about safe ritual nasal rinsing can be found here.

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