Achoo! Flu season hits
Flu season underway, shots available
The 2017-2018 flu season is off to an early start in Missouri.
As of Nov. 25, there were 1,545 cases of the flu reported to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, compared to 379 cases reported at the same time last year.
“In Barry County, 58 cases have been reported since the onset of flu season,” said Carol Landstad, R.N. at the Barry County Health Department in Cassville. “It’s a little higher than reported in previous years, and the vast majority are Influenza B, not Influenza A, and that’s unusual as well. The reported patients tend to be 16 years of age and younger.”
In Lawrence County, the number of confirmed cases reported this year is 30.
“That’s nearly double what we had last year,” said Janella Spencer, administrator at the Lawrence County Health Department. “A lot of people say the flu vaccines don’t work, and that’s especially true if they don’t have them.”
These numbers could indicate that flu season is coming early to the Show-Me State or that it will be particularly severe — as was seen in the southern hemisphere where flu season precedes ours. For 2016-2017, there were more than 70,000 confirmed influenza cases in Missouri. If these trends continue, the state could see even more during the 2017-2018 season.
“We know that historically, the intensity or prevalence of flu can vary from year to year,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “But this year, all indications are that we are seeing more flu earlier in the year and we anticipate more cases. Now is the time to get a flu shot for those who haven’t already. The flu shot, combined with proper handwashing, are the two most effective things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season.”
Landstad said this year’s shot shot covers both strains A and B.
“Type B generally tends to be less severe,” she said. “Whether we see an increase in Type A in December and January, our peak months, remains to be seen.”
Shots are available at the Barry County Health Department. There are a limited number of children’s immunizations available through a state-funded program, and cost of $10.
Adult immunizations cost $32 and are covered by Medicaid and some insurances.
“It’s not too late to receive an immunization,” Landstad said.
For more information, people may call the Barry County Health Department at 417-847-2114 or the Lawrence County Health Department at 471-466-2201.