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Epidemic Influenza Levels Prompt Health Department to Offer Free - KOAM TV 7

Epidemic Influenza Levels Prompt Health Department to Offer Free Flu Shots

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Newton County, Missouri -

Workers at the Newton County Health Department say they haven't been giving out many flu shots, but hope a good deed on their part makes a difference.  The health department is now giving free flu shots.

Nick Noble gets a flu shot every year, based on advice from his good doc, and a horrible past experience.

"When I was younger, I got the flu," says Noble.

This year...

"We seem to have a little touch of it," says Noble.

Every year, there's an estimate of what flu strains to put in vaccines.  

"In part, they base their recommendations on what's going on in the southern hemisphere of the world," says Bob Kulp with the Newton County Health Department.

But this year, after doctors and health professionals made the decision of what goes into the vaccine, the flu played especially mean.

"There was a mutation," says Kulp.

Doctors and nurses are seeing more severe cases of the flu than usual.

"We're seeing a mix.  A lot of the folks who have come in with the influenza did not get the flu shot this year.  Have seen some folks who did get the flu shot and still came down with influenza," says Dr. Michael Farris with Freeman Health System.

Numbers from the CDC show 40,600 confirmed cases of the flu in Missouri since fall of last year, and 33 flu-related deaths.  There have been 271 flu cases in Newton County alone since December; usually that number is 50.

But here's something good with all this sick talk.

"I think the flu shot kind of warded it off," says Noble.

Health workers say this year's flu shot is still more than likely making the flu less severe.  That's why workers at the Newton County Health Department want to get the word out about their free flu shots.

"Probably takes 10 days to a couple of weeks to get full immunity from it," says Kulp.

Just remember, though, that when it comes to health, there are no guarantees.

You must be a resident of Newton County to get a flu shot at the clinic.  CDC data suggests the flu trend in Missouri might have reached a peak.  Click on the associated picture to view the graph, which shows this year's flu trend represented by a red line.

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