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Flu cases on the rise in Missouri

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JOHNSON COUNTY — Flu season is upon us, and case numbers are on a steady climb for Missouri. Currently, Missouri is at Level 6 in the moderate category.

The total number of flu cases in Week 44 for 2022 is 1,738. This year's Week 44 (Oct. 30, 2022, to Nov. 6, 2022) has 1,683 more cases than Week 44 in 2021.

The Associated Press reported that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the hospitalization rate for patients with the flu hasn’t been this high this early since the 2009 swine flu pandemic. As of the Nov. 4 article, reports of flu were already high in 17 states and there had been an estimated 730 flu deaths, including at least two children.

The AP report also stated that COVID-19 cases had been trending downwards.

Johnson County Community Health Services Director of Communications Kerri Lewis said with flu cases on the rise, limiting the number of gatherings during the holiday season could help prevent the spread. 

“With the flu spreading rapidly, it is important to maybe avoid some of those large gatherings indoors,” Lewis said. “There is a potential that you're putting yourself at risk, especially if you haven't had your vaccine.”

JCCHS offers the flu vaccine beginning in October, lasting through the flu season.  

“We receive our vaccines full supply, normally in early October to mid-October,” Lewis said. “Usually, that’s when we start pushing for individuals to get their flu vaccine. We do encourage everyone to get their flu vaccine as early in the season as possible.”

According to the CDC, “recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to those used to make flu vaccines.”

Although the vaccine does not protect you 100% from getting the flu, it is one of the many preventative actions that Lewis suggests to help prevent individuals from getting or spreading the flu. 

“With the vaccine, you can still get the flu,” Lewis said. “Just like any vaccine, what it is going to do is hopefully get antibodies into your system to help fight off the flu. 

“Some people do say they feel ill after getting the vaccine, but it is not with the flu. There is always that potential of getting a virus, even with the vaccine, but the goal is to lessen that severity.”

Along with the vaccine, Lewis said other preventive actions include washing your hands and staying home if you feel sick. 

“The number one thing is to wash your hands,” Lewis said. “That is always a very good way to stop the spread of any potential virus or sickness. Wash your hands and wash them thoroughly. 

If you feel sick or ill, stay home. Don’t go to work and don’t go to school. That is another good way to help prevent the spread of sickness.”

The flu and COVID-19 have very similar symptoms. Lewis said the best way to determine which virus you have is to get tested. But the same precautions you take for the flu apply to COVID. 

“They are very similar,” Lewis said. “Some of the symptoms you are going to see are going to be the same for the flu and what you would see with COVID. 

“So the best way to determine if you have either is to get a COVID test and a flu test. But the same precautions you would take with the flu, you should take with COVID. Either virus can be easily spread among others.” 

JCCHS has a flu vaccine clinic from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Tuesday. Tuesdays are dedicated to the walk-in clinic to ensure they can give out as many vaccines as possible. JCCHS is available throughout the week as well for walk-in vaccines, but there may be a wait time. 

JCCHS, 723 PCA Road in Warrensburg, is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, visit johnsoncountyhealth.org or call 660-747-6121.

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