Columbia Public Health making special effort to prevent flu

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Health & Human Services Department gave out flu vaccinations on Monday as residents get prepared for flu season.

Officials are also taking extra steps to make sure children in Columbia are safe. Flu clinics will continue in elementary schools like they have in years past, but will expand to provide free vaccines in Columbia high schools.

Flu season can begin as early as October, according to the Center for Disease Control. Health officials urge people to take the vaccine before they get sick because the vaccine typically takes about two weeks to go into effect.

Columbia Public Health spokesperson Andrea Waner said though most cases of the illness aren't life threatening, some cases can present serious problems.

"The flu influenza kills thousands of people every year. We definitely recommend people take it seriously and protect themselves," Waner said.

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, more than 1,500 Missourians died from the flu and/or pneumonia during the 2013-14 flu season.

"Getting a flu vaccine every year is your best protection against the flu," Waner said.

The Columbia Health & Human Services Department will set up flu vaccination clinics across Boone County beginning in October. Vaccinations are free for all children age six months through 18 years. For adults an injectable vaccine costs $25.