St. Louis County fighting flu outbreak with free flu shots

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(KTVI) - Cases of influenza have been on the rise. In December, St. Louis County reported there was an early spike in cases. At the time, they hoped the spike would drop after a few days.

Zachary Tebb, M.D. and medical director of emergency medicine at St. Anthony’s, said there is no way of knowing how long the flu bug will stick around.

Tebb encourages anyone sick with the flu to stay home to avoid spreading it.  He also encourages anyone with pre-existing health problems to be extra vigilant in washing their hands and staying away from anyone who is sick.

Illinois officials said Wednesday there have been 122 flu cases which required intensive care hospitalization in the state.  Six people have died.

A three-month-old baby girl spent two nights at Mercy Hospital with H1N1 influenza Type A.   She’s now back home where her mother Cammie Forrester. She is telling everyone to make sure you and your family are protected.  Forrester said, “Get the flu shot. Definitely don’t think you’re immune to it because you’re not.”

First Cammie Forrester and her husband got the flu.  She said the symptoms are terrible, “It literally feels like you’re on your death bed.”

Then their three-month-old baby girl came down with it and was rushed to the hospital. Forrester added, “It’s horrible, it’s horrible. She started running a fever. She wouldn’t eat.”

Her 10-year-old son Dylan got vaccinated months ago and he’s flu free.  He said, “It’s worth it because it works and it only hurts for a second.”

Doctors at the St. Louis County Health Department wish people would follow Dylan’s example.  It’s not too late to get the shot. Dr. Faisal Kahn said, “We have seen a disproportionately high number of young adults come down with influenza like symptom and be admitted to area hospitals.”

So far this flu season there have been more than 800 flu cases in St. Louis County. Almost half the victims were between the ages of 15 and 49. Doctors believe as schools and universities get back in session and people congregate the number of flu cases will only increase.  Cammie Forrester said, “I definitely thought it was young children and older people would get the flu that people in their twenties to forties would never really get it. Boy was I wrong.”

The year 2009 was the last time we saw this type of flu.  It spread around the globe it was a pandemic. Since October the state health department report 877 people have died of the flu or pneumonia in Missouri.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is now urging people who haven’t gotten a flu shot to get one soon.

St. Louis County is now offering free flu shots for people six months and older. They will be offered at the following locations:

North Central Community Health Center
4000 Jennings Station Road in Pine Lawn (63121)
Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
12:00 p.m. (noon) to 4:00 p.m.

John C. Murphy Health Center
6121 North Hanley Road in Berkeley (63134)
Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
12:00 p.m. (noon) to 4:00 p.m.

South County Health Center
4580 South Lindbergh Boulevard in Sunset Hills (63127)
Thursday, January 16th, 2014
12:00 p.m. (noon) to 4:00 p.m.

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