Telltale flu symptoms — fever, cough, chills and muscle aches — are almost nonexistent to Boone County residents so far this year. Yet members of the Boone County Health Department continue to urge residents to receive their vaccination as the height of flu season approaches.
“We haven’t seen the worst of it at this point,” said Heather Baer, Boone County Health Department spokeswoman. “We really just want to let people know that it is not too late. There’s still time to protect you and your family.”
Despite the shortage of vaccine earlier this season, the Boone County Health Department now has a supply of FluMist intranasal vaccine available at no cost to Boone County residents.
The relatively new FluMist vaccine is administered through the nose and does not require a needle. Different from traditional vaccines, FluMist contains a weakened version of a live flu virus and therefore can only be administered to those in good health.
For Brian Hudson and his daughter Rylee, FluMist is a welcome alternative to a flu shot.
“She doesn’t like shots,” said Hudson, who received his vaccination Tuesday at Hy-Vee. “For me, I don’t care, whatever is cheaper. But for her, this might be a better option than a shot.”
Alysa Williams wasn’t eligible to be vaccinated earlier this year, but the additional FluMist vaccine could help keep her family safe.
“My daughter has an IgG (immunoglobulin G) deficiency, which means she has a weakened immune system,” Williams said. “As a caretaker, I need to remain healthy as well.”
So far, Boone County and Missouri have reported a small number of flu cases this season. Only 65 cases have been reported in Missouri, and Boone County has not reported any outbreaks in schools, nursing homes or any areas where people are in close contact with one another, Baer said.
Although this has been a relatively mild flu season, the worst is yet to come. Flu season usually peaks in January or February because it takes the virus that long to travel from China, where it typically originates.
The flu is viral, but people tend to blame the flu on cold weather, which can play a role.
“What happens is, you are out in the cold, or you get run down, and you don’t have the same energy level,” Baer said. “Your immune system is not as good, and you are more susceptible to getting a cold or the flu.”