KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Anecdotally, flu shot effectiveness appears to be holding strong. Still, there’s a long way to go until the end of influenza season.

For the moment, Kansas City health officials are still concerned with sky-high case counts coupled with a larger-than-typical number of hospital visits for the flu in the metro.

Getting his flu shot, Steve Crossley visited Kansas City’s Northland vaccination clinic Thursday with his 94-year-old mother-in-law.

“She’s been dragging me up here,” Crossley said with a laugh. “She’s late getting hers. She usually gets it before Thanksgiving.”

“I never used to get the flu shots when I was younger, but since I turned 60 I started getting them,” Crossley said.

The graph above, provided by the Kansas City Department of Health, shows the season’s flu cases. The purple line shows recorded cases approached 2,000 at the end of November. That number comes from hospitals with lab-confirmed flu cases.

The figure likely shows the most serious cases. Kansas City Health Director Dr. Marvia Jones said the reality is that the flu is much more widespread.

“For the first time in about five years, we’ve had a peak as early as we’ve had. It’s gone higher than it’s been in the past five years. We see it obviously earlier than usual and just many more cases,” Jones said.

Coughing, sore throats and — with current strains — even vomiting are common complaints.

“There seem to be more severe symptoms in younger children this year — chills, fever, high temperatures, body aches and fatigue,” Jones said.

Local health experts advise that flu shots are an important way to protect yourself.

Crossley said the illness has already taken his grandkids out of commission at different times.

“They’ve been sick. All of them have. So it’s going around, and I’ll take my chances,” he said before getting his flu shot.

As for effectiveness of this year’s flu shot, there won’t be much hard information coming out until January.

Kansas City is planning additional vaccine clinics, including one on the second Thursday of each month through flu season. Scheduled appointments are also available. Find more information on the health department’s website.

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