KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Already, doctors in the metro say Jackson and Johnson counties have seen more than 60 flu cases combined.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity in Missouri is sporadic for the week ending on October 6.
Flu season usually starts next month, and doctors and those personally affected by it are urging people to get their flu shots.
“You want to get it in October cause it takes about two weeks for it to be effective in your system,” Dr. Todd Fristo with St. Luke’s Medical Group said.
According to the CDC, the flu landed more than 30,000 people in the hospital last year.
“I think this year’s, from what I read, looks like it might be a little more effective than last year,” Fristo said. “What happened last year was one of the common A strains changed after the A strain was produced, so it was not as effective.”
Fristo said there are a lot of misconceptions about the flu shot.
“It’s not a live virus. It’s not a suppressed virus, so it cannot technically give you influenza,” Fristo said.
Julie Moise works to educate others about those common misconceptions. Last year, the CDC says more than 170 children lost their lives because of flu-related illnesses.
“It’s not the circle of life,” Moise said. “You’re not supposed to bury your child.”
In 2003, Moise’s 6-and-a-half-month-old son Ian died from flu complications. She and her family started the Ian’s Rainbow Flu Foundation to educate people and entourage families to get vaccinated.
“We got our older boys vaccinated, but my husband and I didn’t worry about getting ourselves vaccinated,” Moise said. “We came down with the flu the same time Ian did. Because he was so young, it hit him a lot harder. So there’s not a day goes by that my husband and I don’t wonder if maybe we had given the flu to Ian.”
The money raised by Ian’s Rainbow Flu Foundation goes to free flu clinics.
“This weekend alone between our walk-in and our first flu clinic, we vaccinated over 250 people,” Moise said.
That number brings comfort to Moise and her family.
“Without all of them, we would probably just still be at home mourning the loss of our child. But with the community and the family surrounding us, it makes us feel like we’re making a difference,” Moise said.
The CDC recommends all people ages 6 months and older get vaccinated. Fristo says the only people who shouldn’t get their flu shots are people who had allergic reactions to it in the past.
According to the CDC, there isn’t a shortage of flu vaccines. But some places are running into other problems.
Watkins Health Services at KU didn’t receive its full order of flu vaccines because of a slow release from the FDA. A KU spokesperson said the school had to cancel flu shot clinics because of the delay.
The school is slowly getting the rest of its shipment and rescheduling those clinics. The Lawrence -Douglas Health Department said it isn’t aware of any other delays.
St. Luke’s Medical Group said they have enough flu shots, but they’re ordering more just in case.