As the holiday season approaches, federal officials authorized boosters of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for all adults age 18 and over, the Iowa Department of Health announced Monday.

The action streamlines a process that had sometimes confusing criteria over who was eligible for the booster.

The IDPH also urged Iowans to get their flu vaccines as soon as possible. Flu activity in the state is still low one month into flu season, but cases have increased in the last week, the agency said.

Meanwhile, to keep flu and coronavirus cases down, superintendents are urging parents not to send their children to school if they are showing any signs of illness.  

“If I had a megaphone emoji, I would use it here,” wrote Dan Peterson, Central DeWitt Community School superintendent, in his weekly COVID-19 update Friday.

“If you are a member of our school staff or a student in our school, and you have cold/flu symptoms … PLEASE STAY HOME! I cannot stress how important this is.”

While fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus, and there is no way to tell in advance if a child will get a severe or mild case, the IDPH said.

After a natural infection, some children have developed a rare but serious disease that is linked to COVID-19 called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). Since the beginning of the pandemic, 63 cases of MIS-C have been reported to the IDPH.

Both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from these viruses, the IDPH said. 

“By getting vaccinated for both influenza and COVID-19, we can prevent avoidable hospitalizations and help preserve health care resources for other needs, including illnesses, injuries and emergencies,” the IDPH said in a statement.

“Getting vaccinated now will provide more protection in advance of winter holiday gatherings,” it added.

COVID-19 cases increased in Jackson County and decreased in Clinton County over the past seven days.

Clinton County had 169 COVID-19 cases in the last seven days as of Monday compared with the previous week’s report of 189 new cases, according to the Center for Disease Control. 

The seven-day positivity rate in Clinton County was 14.36% on Monday, up slightly from 14% the week before.

Jackson County reported 73 COVID-19 cases in the last seven days, up from 65 new cases, the CDC said.

The seven-day positivity rate in Jackson County was 18.27%, up from 15.63% the week before.

The rates of the population 12 years and older fully vaccinated in Clinton and Jackson counties on Monday were 59% and 57.4%, respectively.