Flu season is well underway in the U.S. There have been 136 cases of influenza reported to the Springfield-Greene County Health Department so far this season, which started earlier than normal in mid-October. As of December 29, 2018, there had been 4,122 confirmed cases of influenza in Missouri and two flu-related deaths.
Kathryn Wall, public information officer for the health department, said this flu season has been much milder than the last one.
"This is just infinitesimal compared to last year," Wall said. "You know, last year was a historic flu season with really high numbers. The fact that we are only in 136 cases right now is much lower than where we were this time last year."
Comparing numbers from this flu season to the last one: On December 31, 2017, there were already 364 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Greene County and 17,182 cases in the state as a whole.
But Wall said you should still take steps to protect yourself from the flu.
"Our number one best option for preventing flu is the flu vaccine," Wall said. "It's not too late to go and get your flu shot. We normally don't see a peak in our flu numbers until around February, so we would definitely recommend that. That is our strongest and best prevention."
The Centers for Disease Control recommends an annual influenza vaccine for anyone six months and older.
Other things you can do to prevent catching or spreading the flu include covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding sick people or staying home if you don’t feel well and washing your hands regularly.
Flu season typically goes until March each year.