Flu Update

"We've got mumps, measles and rubella, tetanus, we've got it all but not flu shots," says Charlotte Craig director of the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Dept. Only 1 bottle of the flu vaccine remains at the Cape health department. And, now they know 4000 of the vaccines they ordered a year ago won't be arriving at all this year. "I don't know why they're not here, that's the $64,000 question and I just don't know why," says Craig.

Manufacturer errors left this health department high and dry after promising just a late arrival. But, the vaccines are randomly available elsewhere. And, there's still time to get a shot since flu season can last into April. "If you can find it, go ahead and get it," says Craig.

Despite the late arrival of the flu vaccine, and some not arriving at all, the number of reported flu cases are lower around Heartland states this year. "During the first week  of January for 2000 we had 165 reported flu cases, and for the first two weeks in January 2001 we've had 18 confirmed cases," says Jane Wernsman with the Cape health department.

The Centers for Disease Control has also found the number of flu cases is lower than usual nationwide, including in Missouri and Illinois. But Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas are three of six states actually reporting regional flu activity. So, the number of flu cases there may soon be increasing.

This time last year was the peak of the flu season, but with much of the flu vaccine arriving late or not at all, that peak is likely to come later this year.