SHAWNEE, Kan. -- Missouri is no longer the sickest state in the country in terms of the flu. Kansas has replaced it.
Data from health technology company Kinsa shows 6.6 percent of Kansans, or 1 in every 15 people, had the flu in the past week. That’s nearly a 50 percent increase from the number of people who had it the week before.
Missouri's Department of Health says 888 people have already died from the flu or related illnesses this year. In Kansas, which has a smaller population than its neighbor, 763 people have died.
The Center for Disease Control reports this flu season will likely be the worst outbreak since the Swine Flu pandemic of 2009. Three times as many people are in hospitals for the flu right now than at this time last year.
On Thursday, Centra Care Shawnee Mission Urgent Care was giving away free flu shots at four Johnson County locations.
James Maendele said he'd never a flu shot before, but gave in to pressure from his family. Kristina Horneck also got the shot along with two of her children.
“Hearing about how the flu is actually worse this year, there’s more people catching it -- I really wanted them to get their flu shot to prevent it as much as possible," Horneck said.
Sandra Archer with Shawnee Mission Health said it’s not too late for a flu shot to help.
"Throughout the nation most states haven’t even seen a peak of the influenza vaccine, so we are anticipating this flu season will last for another month or two," she said. "So there’s still opportunity to get antibodies and some protection against influenza."
The free flu shots will be available while supplies last again Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Shawnee Mission Centra Care locations in Lenexa, Overland Park, Olathe and Shawnee.