Franklin County health officials aren’t sure why news reports are circulating stating this year’s flu vaccine is ineffective.
County Public Health Supervisor Tony Buel says flu cases in Franklin County are just above where the numbers were last year.
Two months into the unofficial flu season, only 30 cases have been reported in Franklin County and just under 1,600 statewide.
Last year at this time, 23 cases had been reported.
“It’s just too early to tell,” Buel said. “We are accumulating them at the same speed as last year, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
Buel added the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is the lead agency on influenza and it isn’t reporting any issues with the vaccine.
In previous years, Buel said with starts like this, the cases could top out at 300, or reach more than 1,000.
A record number of 1,664 flu cases were reported in Franklin County last flu season between September and April, but Buel says the real number could be even higher.
“It was probably three times that,” Buel said. “But, most people who had it didn’t go to the doctor.”
It is not too late and health officials encourage county residents to get flu shots, either at the health department, their doctor’s office or other sources.
Buel added the vaccine this year has been designed to protect against the same four strains of influenza that hit the county so hard last season.
Statewide the 2017-2018 flu season is off to an early start.
As of Nov. 25, there were 1,545 cases of flu reported to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), compared to 379 cases reported at the same time last year.
These numbers could indicate that flu season is coming early 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.
The group most affected by the bug last year was school-aged children ages 5 to 14 with about one-third of the total cases, but only one school was forced to close.
There were 553 cases in that age range reported, making up 33 percent.
The second highest group to be infected was adults ages 25 to 49 with 347 cases or 20 percent.
Older teens and younger adults ages 15-24 made up 12 percent of the cases with 202, and seniors 65 and older made up 11 percent with 186 cases.
There were 158 cases in the 50 to 64 age range, making up just over 9 percent of the totals.
Younger children were also hit hard by the bug with 13 percent of the cases being reported in the children 4 and under age group with 218 cases.
The peak reporting was mid-February to mid-March when 200 cases were reported each week.