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Columbia/Boone County Health Department offers free flu vaccines

The peak of flu season starts next month, and the Center for Disease Control is recommending people to get vaccinations as soon as possible.

The CDC says it takes about two weeks after getting vaccinated for antibodies to develop and provide protection against the flu.

The CDC says it is impossible to predict what this year’s flu season will be like because the timing, severity and length of the flu season changes every year. But the peak is usually from December to February.

The CDC says flu vaccine manufacturers are projecting as many as 156 million doses of influenza vaccine will be available for the U.S. over the 2014-2015 flu season.

Saturday, about 150 people attended the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services Flu Clinic in the three hours it was open.

Michelle Riefe, Columbia/Boone Co. Health Department:”We’re doing a mass-vaccination clinic, and it serves really two purposes: for us to practice our mass-vaccinations and also to get people who are uninsured vaccinated.”

The flu clinic offered free vaccines for adults on a first-come first-serve basis and all children under 18.

Seven stations were set up with three different vaccination options including the FluMist, the injectable flu shot and the high dose vaccine for patients 65 years of age and older.

The CDC recommends the flu vaccine for anyone over the age of six months.

Saturday, Riefe said the flu shot was the most popular choice. But starting this year, the CDC recommends the nasal spray, or FluMist, vaccine for children ages 2 to 8 years old as recent studies show the mist may work better than the shot in younger children.

Riefe said good hygiene practices can help prevent the flu as well.

Riefe: “Stay home if you’re sick, get vaccinated, cover your mouth when you’re coughing or sneezing.”

Although the flu vaccine is not a guarantee you will not get the flu, the CDC says it reduces your chance of getting it by about 60 percent. It can also make your illness more mild if you do get the flu and reduce the risk of more serious outcomes like hospitalizations and deaths.

If you missed the flu clinic Saturday, you can still receive the flu vaccine at the health department on West Worley Street Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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