Columbia residents offer tips on how to avoid the flu

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COLUMBIA - The Centers for Disease Control have elevated Missouri's influenza outbreak level from regional to wide-spread this week.

The Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) monitors contracted influenza strains reported on a five tiered scale. Wide-spread is the highest level on their scale. 

Influenza spreads best in the winter months when the majority of the population congregates inside. It's in these warm, concentrated locations that the flu spreads best.

According to the CDC's website, it recommends that all people are at risk of contracting this years flu strain and that if you haven't yet gotten vaccinated, then you should. 

Dianna Mays is a nurse at the Boone Hospital Center, she said she's seen more people come in for the flu-shot than ever before. 

"I had not expected that many people to come," Mays said. "I think people think the shot is the only way to help prevent the flu, there are other ways."

Along with the vaccine, the CDC says frequent hand-washing and healthy sleeping habits can increase your chances of staying flu free this season. 

Artie Miller is 80 years old. She attributes her healthy to her active lifestyle. 

"My doctors always get worried about me around the flu season," Miller said. "But I always eat my vitamins and keep myself busy. Catching the flu would be very bad for me, so I do all I can to avoid it."

The CDC agrees that many steps can increase you chances of avoiding the flu, but they maintain that the single most effective preventative measure is still the yearly flu vaccine.