Uptick in Missouri flu cases could mean vaccine is working better than last year

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The CDC said over the past weeks, Missouri has seen a major uptick in flu-like illnesses– putting them at a moderate level of infection.

Hannibal Regional doctors said this uptick in flu-like cases is happening later than last year, meaning this year’s vaccine could be more effective than last year– but it’s still important to stay safe.

“it is very easy to spread here, we do have protocols in place,” said Heather Lohmeyer, Infection Preventionist and RN at Luther Manor Nursing Home in Hannibal, adding that they stay vigilant throughout the flu season to protect the vulnerable senior population, “that includes making sure everyone washes their hands, disinfects surfaces, and uses face masks when needed [..] some residents we have them even wear a mask when they go out for appointments, so they don’t catch anything.”

Physicians at Hannibal Regional said even this far into flu season, it’s still important to take steps to make sure you don’t get sick.

“Last year we saw an early spike because of the ineffectiveness against influenza a,” said Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Hannibal Regional James tucker, adding that so far, this year’s flu vaccine seems to be more effective than last years, “in each flu shot there are antigens against influenza a and influenza b so the influenza a seemed to spike pretty high and seemed to be relatively ineffective for patients, this year we didn’t see that early spike and had fewer cases.”

But that doesn’t mean people should stop being careful and remembering to wash their hands and cover their cough.

“[Despite that,] following the trends that the CDC is seeing, we’re expecting a higher uptick in the next month to two months,” said Dr. Tucker.

Something Lohmeyer said is important to remember when visiting family…

“Even if I was to say get the flu, it might not make me that sick, but somebody that’s a hundred years old.. It could kill them so you do it to protect other people not just themselves,” said Lohmeyer.

Dr. Tucker said flu shots can typically prevent infection for four to six months, and help both the young and old build up antigens in their bodies.

There are currently five states at the same level of flu-like activity as Missouri, doctor tucker says over the past weeks, cases like these more than doubled. Iowa and Illinois are both at the minimal level of flu-like activity.

Frank Healy

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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