December 07, 2021
Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services encourages flu vaccination as flu activity begins to pick up
There’s still time to protect against flu
Lisa Cox, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
JEFFERSON CITY, MO -- The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS) is reminding Missourians to stick it to the flu this season by getting vaccinated, as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW). Although overall flu activity remains low, positive cases in Missouri are picking up. Flu vaccination is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications, including children age 5 and under, adults older than 65, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
“We know flu season typically peaks in the month of February, so there’s still time to benefit from vaccination,” said Donald Kauerauf, DHSS Director. “Although last winter’s flu season was very low in activity, it’s important to remember that our immunity from the flu decreases over time. That means many people may have reduced immunity to flu this season and it is incredibly important this year for you and your family to take the step to get vaccinated for the flu.”
Flu viruses are constantly changing and protection from vaccination decreases over time, so getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to prevent flu. As we celebrate this holiday season, DHSS and other public health experts are concerned about the potential for reduced immunity in people who are already at higher risk of developing serious flu complications, especially those with the chronic health conditions listed above. In past flu seasons, 9 out of 10 adults hospitalized for flu had at least one underlying medical condition.
Flu can be very serious. Nearly every year in the United States, millions of people get the flu, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands die from flu-related illnesses. The most common symptoms of flu are fever, cough, and sore throat. Symptoms can also include body aches, headaches, chills, runny nose and fatigue.
Nationally and in Missouri, flu activity during the 2020-2021 season was very low, likely because of COVID-19 prevention measures. In the first eight weeks of surveillance for the 2021-2022 flu season, Missouri has reported 853 positive influenza cases (597 influenza A, 242 influenza B, and 14 untyped) and one death using data collected through Nov. 27, 2021. Missouri’s flu trends remain consistent with what is being reported nationally: influenza activity remains low, with a slight increase in the number of cases reported compared to previous weeks. To see Missouri’s weekly influenza reports, click here.
The purpose of NIVW, celebrated Dec. 5-11, 2021, is to remind individuals of the importance of getting their influenza vaccine before the holiday. NIVW is a call to all Americans 6 months and older to get their annual flu vaccine if they have not already. Flu remains a significant public health concern, but there is still time to get a flu vaccine – the only vaccine that protects against flu – to prevent flu illness and potentially serious complications. Additionally, a COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine can be given at the same time. Contact your healthcare provider, or find a location near you for either vaccine at Vaccines.gov. For more information regarding flu in Missouri, visit MOStopsFlu.com.
Media assets: DHSS has established a 2021-2022 toolkit to promote Influenza Vaccination this season. You can find those pieces posted at Health.Mo.Gov or by clicking here: https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/influenza/outreach-toolkit.php.
About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo