The now epidemic flu is spreading in some places in the U.S., but the virus has slowed in the Southeast.
Forty-four states including Kansas and Missouri are experiencing widespread flu activity. The city of Boston, MA, declared a public health emergency. Sick calls for businesses are 10 times higher right now than they were this time last year.
There have already been more than 9,800 cases of the flu in Missouri this year, more than 16 times the average of the past five flu seasons at this point. Most of the flu that's been reported so far in Missouri is type B, but type A flu is also being reported in the state.
Officials said the flu season usually doesn't kick in until late January or early February. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Missouri is one of 29 states already reporting high levels of more intense flu-like illnesses.
It's not too late to get vaccinated - although it may be a little hard to find the vaccine right now.
Some metro pharmacies are out and others are running low. The Walgreens in Roeland Park is out of their flu shots and a CVS off Johnson Drive in Mission, KS, is also waiting for another shipment to come in. Some pharmacies said they've put in an order and are expecting to get more vaccines soon - they recommend calling ahead to make sure they have a supply before stopping in.
Area health departments still have vaccines and the American Red Cross said it has plenty of vaccines – it held a last-minute flu shot clinic Friday.
There were no long lines at the clinic and nurses were quick to deliver one flu shot after another. It was pretty easy for people like Jeff Gorosh to get in and out.
"(I waited this long to get the shot) just because I didn't think it's going to happen to me, but I've heard it on the news, a lot of people getting sick, so thought it's a good idea I go down and get a flu shot," Gorosh said.
While some local drug stores are waiting for another shipment of vaccines, the American Red Cross showed off their refrigerator stocked with plenty of flu vaccines. They already held 100 flu shot clinics before Friday's clinic.
"A lot of people procrastinated and didn't get a flu shot because it hasn't been aggressive the last few years," said Jamie Dierking with the American Red Cross. "But this year we have an early strain and it's aggressive so we are already seeing the effects of that, so we have plenty of flu vaccines left and nurses ready to go."
Amy Bird from Blue Springs, MO, said it was on the top of her to-do list for 2013.
"You want to be prepared and don't want to give someone else an illness because you didn't take care of yourself," she said.
Even KCTV5 Photographer Brett Hacker missed out on the flu shot clinic held at the end of October at the station, so he took the opportunity to get one between stories Friday.
"I had to go out to work, so I wasn't able to get the flu shot when it was open to me earlier, so I heard they had them here and I got it as soon as I could and now I'm off to cover the news," Hacker said.
Friday's clinic was held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the American Red Cross, located at 211 W. Armour Blvd. in Kansas City, MO. Those who ran it said they may schedule another clinic, depending on the demand for it.
It takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect.
If you're looking for a place that has the flu vaccine in your neighborhood, click here. From there, type in your zip code and press go. The site can also be used to report a vaccine shortage.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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