The Audrain City-County Health Unit has teamed with Audrain Medical Center to offer free influenza vaccines to the public. Nearly 1,000 doses are available on a first come, first-served basis.
The vaccines are being offered at the health unit during regular business hours, by appointment. According to ACCHU Administrator Kevin Lowrance this service is being offered due to the recent rise in influenza cases across the state and an over-abundance of vaccines left over from the start of the flu season.
If not used within the designated season the vaccines could expire, he said.
"Instead of letting the remaining vaccines expire and be lost forever, we felt offering them free was the better choice," Lowrance said. And with influenza becoming so widespread across the state and the nation, he said ACCHU staff felt the service was also a good "precautionary measure."
"At the beginning of this year's flu season, we hardly had any positive cases in the area or the state. But just in January alone, we jumped to 26 cases which tells us its a later season event than it was last year (when it was zero cases)," Lowrance explained. "Remember, one of the best ways to protect yourself is to get an influenza shot."
A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against three flu viruses, including H1N1, H3N2, and influenza B.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. Some people, such as young children, older people, pregnant women and people with certain long-term health conditions are at high risk for serious flu complications. In addition to getting a flu shot, other suggestions to prevent the spread of the flu include:
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow not your bare hand.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Stay home when you are sick, especially if you have a fever. Remain at home until 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
More information about preventing the flu can be found at www.dhss.mo.gov.