JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has published the first Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report of the 2023-2024 flu season. It is available as an interactive online dashboard, launched today. The first week of this official flu season, Oct. 1-7, showed low flu activity with 125 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A and B reported statewide. Below is an example of the dashboard;
The dashboard streamlines the previous weekly flu reports, which DHSS has produced for many years during each official flu season (October through mid-May). Using laboratory and outpatient data, the dashboard displays the counties that have reported flu cases each week, the weekly number of cases statewide as compared to the previous four flu seasons, the percentage of hospital emergency department visits that included patients with influenza-like illness (fever and a cough and/or sore throat), and the number of new flu-related hospital admissions by week. Data will continue to be updated weekly.
“This dashboard is another example of our continued commitment to modernizing the data we collect, analyze and share with Missourians,” said DHSS Director Paula F. Nickelson. “We hope Missourians find this tool will provide them easier access to useful data to inform their personal health choices.”
According to data from the CDC, vaccination remains the best protection against flu-related and COVID-19 related hospitalization and death, especially for individuals over age 65 or with weaker immune systems. Everyone 6 months and older is eligible and encouraged by the CDC to get a flu and COVID-19 vaccine. This recommendation comes following vaccine approval from the Food and Drug Administration and a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. It is recommended that these vaccines be administered by the end of October, because it takes two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the viruses.
This year marks the first fall and winter virus season where vaccines are available for the three viruses responsible for most hospitalizations – flu, COVID-19 and RSV. DHSS also encourages individuals to minimize virus spread by staying home when sick, practicing good handwashing, and seeking testing when ill to identify the infection.
Individuals may receive both flu and COVID-19 vaccines during the same appointment, according to the CDC. Several locations have both vaccines available. The CDC and DHSS recommend talking to your healthcare provider or local pharmacy to find a vaccine clinic near you, or to schedule a vaccine appointment. To learn more or find vaccines near you, visit MOStopsFlu.com.