Columbia and Boone County offering vaccines for upcoming flu season

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COLUMBIA -  Flu shots are now available from the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services (PHHS).

PHHS began offering flu shots this week at its clinic located at 1005 W. Worley St.

"Flu vaccination is the most important thing you can do to help prevent flu," Columbia/Boone County Health and Human Services Nursing Supervisor Trina Teacutter said. "It’s the most effective method we have for flu prevention."

Residents do not need to make an appointment to get vaccinated and can walk-in Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The vaccine is available to all Boone County residents older than six months and is free for children under the age of 18.

According to a press release, the free vaccines were made possible through a partnership between MU Children’s Hospital and the David B. Lichenstein Foundation.

For residents 19 years and older, the cost of the shot varies based on insurance coverage.

Without insurance the vaccination costs $25.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website says flu activity begins to increase in October and then peaks between December and February. But the flu season can last as late as May.

"The best time to get a flu shot is whenever you can get a flu shot," Teacutter said. "It does take a couple of weeks to get the full benefit from vaccination so you want to get that on board as soon as you can."

Teacutter also said it is never too late to get vaccinated for the flu.

"[Even] if you've waited until after the holidays," Teacutter continued. "We still encourage people to come in to get vaccinated."

Flu season in the Southern Hemisphere can forecast what the flu season will be like in the Northern Hemisphere.  

A report by NBC news says this year's flu strains could be worse than previous years citing "a particularly virulent flu strain, H3N2, dominated" Australia during its flu season.

For more information on vaccinations and tips to stay well this flu season you can visit PHHS's website.