If you feel you may have the flu, metro hospitals ask you seek medical help at urgent care centers and clinics.
Hospital spokespeople for Mercy Medical Center, Iowa Healthy, and Broadlawns Medical Center say their emergency rooms are swamped with patients and long wait times from a large number of flu cases.
"We will want our sickest patients and that doesn't mean just the flu, to be the ones evaluated in the emergency room," said Dr. Daniel Gervich of Mercy Medical Center.
Anyone with non-emergent medical needs should go to an urgent care center of walk-in clinic. Dr. Gervich recommends calling the clinic before going in.
"So they can talk about their symptoms with a health care provider before they go somewhere and potentially have to wait for a long period of time, sit in a waiting room with a lot of other sick people."
Mercy and Iowa Health are limiting the number of visitors at this time. No more than two visitors at a time and visitors need to be 18 years or older. Exceptions will be made for critically-ill patients or end-of-life situations.
Meanwhile, it's not too late to get your flu shot. First, you have to find the vaccine. Many Dahl's pharmacies have run out and have had to turn people away.
"They actually weren't too surprised because they had heard it from other people as well," said David Roemer, a pharmacist at the Dahl's in Beaverdale.
Dahl's pharmacies may decide not to get more. The state department of public health says there is not a vaccination supply shortage.
To best protect yourself from the flu, there are a couple easy things to do. Make sure to wash and/or sanitize your hands often, cough and sneeze into your arms or a tissue, and get your flu shot if you have not already done so. If you are treated by a doctor, ask how long it will take until you are no longer contagious.
A listing of free clinics is also available at www.idph.state.ia.us or the public can contact their County Health Department for additional information.