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Iowa gears up for flu season amid pandemic

With flu season just around the corner, Iowa is looking into ways to test for both the flu and coronavirus at the same time.

IOWA, USA — Iowa leaders said they're working on a long-term testing strategy as the state prepares to battle flu season in the middle of the pandemic.

"They've been very proactive in trying to be ready and anticipate what a flu season looks like," Gov. Kim Reynolds, R-Iowa, said Thursday during a COVID-19 press briefing. "How do we do a multiplex test if that becomes necessary? What happens if we have a vaccine?"

One test Iowa is looking at is a multiplex test, which would detect both influenza and COVID-19.

State Hygienic Lab Director Dr. Michael Pentella said if the state moves forward with a multiplex option, it has to be able to detect both influenza A and influenza B.

Dr. Pentella said the best sample type for both influenza and SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19) is a nasopharyngeal sample, which is collected by a health professional doing a deep nasal cavity swab.

If the state purchases a new test yet to be validated by the State Hygienic Lab, it'll have to be validated; a process that took two weeks for the initial statewide test that was rolled out. Dr. Pentella said it's not possible to predict how long a different test would take to be validated.

On September 2,  the governor's spokesman Pat Garrett said there have been roughly 205,000 Co-Diagnostic tests used at TestIowa sites.

The state of Iowa signed a contract in April with Nomi Health, which agreed to send the state 540,000 test kits.

In the meantime, flu vaccines are available at many major outlets like Hy-Vee, Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy, often times for free.  You could also get a flu shot from your family doctor.

With COVID-19 still very much in out midst, doctors encourage as many people as possible to get a flu shot this year.