SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — As flu season quickly approaches, health experts warn now is the time to get vaccinated.
Data shows that every year, some of the most vulnerable populations skip out on the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control recommend everyone over the age of six months get a flu shot, especially urging the vaccine for children, pregnant women and seniors.
Kim Peterson is part of another vulnerable group.
“It kind of scares me that people are so apathetic about it,” Peterson said.
About 53% of the population, to be exact, said no thanks to the shot last flu season. Peterson says her personal health depends on everyone around her choosing to get vaccinated, or not.
“I am someone who is immune-compromised due to an autoimmune disease,” she said. “I get sick very easily.”
But because Peterson can’t make that decision for everyone, her family, including daughter Anisa Peterson, is taking the health department’s advice.
“I’m going to get it in the next week,” she said.
That’s exactly what Kendra Findley, with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, suggests.
“We’re not seeing any flu activity yet in the Greene County area, or in Missouri, but now is the time to get vaccinated,” Findley said. “It takes two weeks or so for your body to build up a reaction to that vaccine.”
Trends show flu vaccinations have remained relatively flat over the last decade, meaning millions of Americans will put it off until next year, or indefinitely, citing concerns of ineffectiveness or that it’s not necessary.
“In essence, it’s a slight different flu vaccine than the one you got last year, just a slight difference that will hopefully protect better against the circulating strains,” Findley said.
In an average year, she says the flu will kill 36,000 Americans. It’s a statistic the Petersons would rather not test.
“Especially with how severe strains have been the last several years, I know friends of friends that have passed away, that were normally healthy people,” Peterson said.
The health department says it’s finalizing its list of free flu shot opportunities, and should have that information available online next week. Local schools also plan to offer vaccination soon. As always, they should be should be available at most doctor’s offices and pharmacies.