Flu Vaccine | St. Louis Public Radio

Flu Vaccine

Sarah King isn't afraid of having the flu — in fact, she considers herself an "excellent sick person."

"I have a pretty high pain tolerance," King says. "I'm not a person that whines a lot. I just kind of suck it up."

So when she heard about a medical study that pays volunteers about $3,000 to be infected with the live flu virus, King thought the offer sounded too good to pass up. Last fall, she checked in for a 10-day stay at Saint Louis University's "Hotel Influenza," a quarantine unit where researchers study how the human immune system fights the flu.

Officials say even healthy people should receive a flu vaccine to protect the greater population.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Public health experts are urging Missourians to get a flu shot ahead of a flu season that could likely arrive earlier and be more severe than last year’s. 

The vaccine is the most effective way for people to protect themselves and others in the community from the flu, state health officials said. 

“Herd immunity” also can protect at-risk people including the elderly, young children and people who cannot safely receive vaccines, but only if high numbers of people who can receive the shot are immunized.

Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

The number of cases reported in Missouri this flu season is only a fifth of last year’s, thanks in part to mild temperatures.

There have been 5,460 flu cases reported to the state since early October, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. That’s less than one-fifth the number of cases reported during the same period in 2018.

The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst in recent memory. In Missouri alone, more than 300 people died from the flu.

Karen Wheat, second from left, stands with fellow volunteers at the Immune Deficiency Foundation's Walk for PI (Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases) on 10/09/16.
provided by Karen Wheat.

Sometimes we swap more than stories when we gather around the Thanksgiving table.

Flu season generally runs from late fall into early spring, but the number of cases starts to increase when people come into contact with others around the holidays.  By getting a flu shot, people can protect themselves and those around them who may be unable to get vaccinated.

“For an immune compromised patient, this is a really hard time … we can’t fight the flu,” said Karen Wheat, 53, a Belleville resident who lives with common variable immune deficiency. The disorder affects more than 1 in 50,000 people worldwide.

St. Louis region has seen late, mild flu season

Mar 24, 2016
A flu vaccine dose beside several needles.
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

The number of people getting the flu is on the way back down in the St. Louis region. It spiked slightly earlier this month.

The St. Louis County health department confirmed 207 cases of influenza this week, compared to 380 last week, and 295 the week before that. In St. Louis, the number of weekly flu cases peaked earlier this month just below 150.

A flu vaccine dose beside several needles.
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

A Washington University professor has a possible business solution to a perennial public health problem: flu vaccine shortages.

Olin Business School professor Fuqiang Zhang and his research partners are proposing a combination of existing contract incentives.

A flu vaccine gets placed inside a needle.
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

Shots aren’t for everyone, but the manufacturer of a nasal spray version of the vaccine experienced a technical issue early in the season that caused shipping delays.

At Forest Park Peds in St. Louis, office manager Gail McCarthy says the clinic has been receiving just a percentage of the FluMist vaccines they’d originally ordered.

Judy Schmidt, James Gathany, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In the past few weeks, the St. Louis region has seen a dramatic increase in the number of flu cases. The dangerous H1N1 strand that appeared in 2009 is back, and nine people have already died of the illness at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.  

It's Back! Flu Spreads (Again) In St. Louis

Dec 26, 2013
Judy Schmidt, James Gathany, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It’s winter again in St. Louis ― and that means the start of flu season.

Dr. Faisal Khan with the St. Louis County Department of Health says he’s seen a sharp spike in the number of reported flu cases in the past couple of weeks.

He says that quick uptick is normal for this time of year, and it’s too soon to tell whether the current pattern will continue.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 10, 2013: Flu season has arrived and public health officials are encouraging residents of the St. Louis area to receive a flu shot as soon as possible.

“The earlier you get it, the better protected you are,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Communicable Disease Control Services for the St. Louis County Health Department.

Flu, Flu Everywhere? Mapping The Flu Near You

Jan 11, 2013
(via Google Flu Trends)

Updated 3:21 p.m. with additional city data.

As our Julie Bierach reported yesterday, the flu this year is early, strong - and a second wave is expected.

But where? To use a phrase which may resonate with some of you - "let's go to the map!"

via Wikimedia Commons

The flu season has started early across the US. Doctors have been treating a large number of cases at area hospitals since October. Pediatricians at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis are treating a high number of patients diagnosed with the flu.

St. Louis Public Radio's Julie Bierach spoke with Dr. Ken Haller, a pediatrician at Cardinal Glennon. He says to be prepared for a second peak of flu cases.

Follow Julie Bierach on Twitter: @jbierach

Can You Get A Flu Shot And Still Get The Flu?

Jan 8, 2013

This year's flu season started about a month early, prompting federal health officials to warn it could be one of the worst in years. They're urging everyone to get their flu shots.

But like every flu season, there are lots of reports of people complaining that they got their shot but still got the flu. What's up with that?

Well, as Michael Jhung of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains, there are lots of possible reasons.

(National Institutes of Health)

As many as a quarter of EMTs and other emergency medical personnel in the St. Louis area may not be getting annual flu vaccinations, according to a new study out of Saint Louis University.

Saint Louis University nurse researcher and study lead Terri Rebmann says many study participants had misconceptions about the flu vaccine.

Morning headlines: Friday, September 2, 2011

Sep 2, 2011
(via Wikimedia Commons/FEMA Photo Library)

St. Louis County to test new warning system on Mon.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the county will test the new $7 million warning siren system at 11 a.m. Monday. The county's emergency operations center will monitor closely to make sure the 180 speakers work properly.

A flu vaccine gets placed inside a needle.
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

A new study out of Saint Louis University suggests that a child’s first doses of flu vaccine can be given as either two shots or two nasal sprays, but that giving one shot and one nasal spray may be most protective.

Lead researcher Dr. Dan Hoft says the nasal spray – which is a live vaccine – can cause wheezing. But it’s more effective than an inactivated vaccine, which is injected.

Hoft says this initial study suggests giving children one injection and one nasal spray may provide better protection against the flu, without the respiratory side effects.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 20, 2011 - SSM Health Care employs nearly 30,000 health-care workers in Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. The health system is insisting that its employees protect themselves and the public by requiring flu shots and no smoking as a condition of employment.

No vaccine against rumors

Jan 17, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 17, 2011 - When Tom Wombacher first heard media reports about vaccines being potentially harmful and that some celebrities had stopped giving them to their children, he had his suspicions about the reliability of the information.

"I didn't think it was completely accurate," said the 33-year-old Overland resident whose son Nolan was born in last May.

Still, it gave him pause. He found himself surfing the internet on the topic.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 7, 2010 - In late October, the Parkway School District was being hit hard by the H1N1 virus. Nurses and teachers were getting sick. There were days when 6, 8 or as many as 13 percent of students in a given school were absent.

"We certainly felt the flu here," said Lisa Harnacker, manager of health services at the Parkway School District. "But as fast as those numbers went up, they seemed to drop off quickly."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 13, 2009 - Students at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville say they are using hand sanitizers and taking other steps to avoid getting or spreading H1N1 -- the swine flu -- but they have mixed feelings about being vaccinated against the virus.

Robyn Kelly, 18, a freshman from Belleville, is among those who feel it is important to get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 19, 2009 - Given their proximity to people with illnesses, health-care workers are often the first in line for seasonal flu shots. This fall, many doctors, nurses and hospital administrators will also be among the first to receive the H1N1 vaccine, even as it arrives more gradually than originally anticipated. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 14, 2009 - During her brief stop in St. Louis last week to promote the H1N1 vaccine, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius took the occasion to speak directly to people who don’t typically get flu shots.

"I'm troubled by the fact that year in and year out, fewer than 50 percent of all populations except for 65 and over who are targeted for the seasonal flu vaccine actually get it," Sebelius said during her news conference at Saint Louis University. "We have a pretty low take-up rate."

Sebelius promotes flu vaccine

Oct 6, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 6, 2009 - U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius' H1N1 virus publicity tour hit St. Louis on Tuesday, just as the region prepares for an influx of flu vaccines and braces for a potentially severe flu season.

Sebelius and U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr., D-St. Louis, toured the Saint Louis University Center for Vaccine Development's Doisy Research Center, where clinical trials of the H1N1 vaccine have taken place over the past few months.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 4, 2009 - As Lynn Potts of Chesterfield prepares to send her children back to school Aug. 17, she's more concerned about buying notebooks and getting them settled in new classrooms than swine flu. "I'm not one of those hysterical people," Potts said.

But if the Parkway School District recommends swine flu, or H1N1, shots for her  second grader, fifth grader and high school senior, she'd consider it for the younger ones and definitely get it for the oldest, who she feels is more at risk because teenagers often fail to place enough importance on hygiene.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 27, 2009 - When you get immunized for the H1N1 swine flu virus this fall, researchers from Saint Louis University will be "deciders" of how the vaccine is administered.

For almost two decades, the Center for Vaccine Development at SLU has been one of only eight Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units funded by the National Institutes of Health for clinical trials on new vaccines.

On Science: Getting ready for flu season

Jul 15, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 15, 2009 - It is mid-summer, the day after baseball's All-Star game here in St. Louis, with the cooler days of fall in distant sight. This is the time of year that public health officials begin to seriously prepare for the unwelcome guest that arrives each fall with the cool weather: influenza.

Flu season 2008-2009 begins ... now

Oct 10, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 10, 2008 - This year more people than ever before should get a flu vaccination, according to new recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Along with the usual guideposts, the CDC is now recommending that all children, ages 6 months to 18 years, get vaccinated against influenza.