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Health officials encouraging residents to get seasonal flu vaccine

Health officials report that there have been no reported flu cases in Boone County, but a flu outbreak can happen as early as October and recommend getting a flu vaccine now.

The health department encourages residents to get the vaccine now — it’s not too soon. The injectable vaccine is available at the health department and other places around mid-Missouri.

“It is still your best protection against the flu, in conjunction with washing your hands, staying home from work and school when you’re sick,” said Andrea Waner with Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services.

Health experts said during November they begin to see an uptick in flu cases, but there’s no prediction on what kind of flu season we’ll see this year. Hopefully, it won’t be a repeat of last year. One of the flu strains mutated or drifted and was poorly matched with the vaccine. Consequently, 2,399 Boone County residents were feeling the aches and fatigue of the flu, many more than the 641 residents from the previous year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone 6 months or older to get the vaccine and with the support from MU Children’s Hospital and the David B. Lichtenstein Foundation, the Boone County Health Department offers free vaccinations to anyone 18 and younger.

“We can provide those children’s vaccinations at no cost to the parents. So, that allows us also to go into participating Boone County elementary, middle and high schools to provide those vaccines on various days,” said Waner.

The CDC said the flu season usually lasts from October to May and peaks between December and February.

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