SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Health officials are keeping an eye on what they say could be a severe flu season this year. 

Springfield-Greene County Health Department officials said flu numbers are on the rise in the area. 

Health Department Administrator of Community Health and Epidemiology, Kendra Findley, said last year, for the entire season, the county only saw 73 reported cases. 

Findley said they saw 99 cases of the flu reported in the month of November in Greene County. 

“When you look historically back, that is the second-highest number of flu cases reported so far going back to 2009. I have flu numbers recorded back all the way to 2004 and again, that’s the second-highest month that we’ve seen back to 2009,” Findley said. 

She said seeing the high number already can give us a preview of what we might have in store. 

“It’s kind of an indicator that we’re going to start seeing a higher peak each week,” Findley said. “We’re going to start seeing that jump in cases. It is an indicator that we may have a severe flu season.” 

Flu numbers, Findley said, don’t typically peak until Jan. or Feb. and many cases of the flu aren’t even reported. 

“My concern is that we’re going to have a high flu season and a COVID spike again because we may have Omicron come through,” Findley said. “Those are my concerns. The last thing we need is a pandemic on top of a flu outbreak, but we may very well have that.” 

Data shows the last two flu seasons, prior to last year, having numbers above 4,000. 

“I am really expecting that we’re going to have a flu season this year much like those other years,” Findley said. 

She said while health officials recommend getting the flu shot by Halloween, it is not too late to get the shot. 

“It takes two weeks from when you get your flu shot to when you have those protective antibodies so that you’re fully protected against flu,” Findley said.