Fall is here and for many that is a sign that flu season is on its way. Flu shots are now available all over the lake area and one local expert is encouraging the public to get a flu shot as soon as possible.

Fall is here and for many that is a sign that flu season is on its way. Flu shots are now available all over the lake area and one local expert is encouraging the public to get a flu shot as soon as possible.

"That is the only way that a person can be sure that they will not contract the flu when they come in contact with the viruses in the environment," Lake Regional's Infection Preventionist Jim Howard, R.N., C.I.C. said.

Howard added that without the flu vaccine, one would have to rely on their own immune system to get them through the virus and sometimes that is not enough.

With new research and evidence that suggests that the vaccine lasts up to a year, Howard says to get the vaccine as soon as it is available.

"The CDC and the World Health Organization are both recommending now to get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available," he said.

Howard also said that everyone should get the vaccine no matter their age. The vaccine not only prevents the person from getting the virus but prevents them from contracting it and transmitting it to someone else.

"It doesnt really matter what your age or other health issues are. Everyone should get the flu vaccine," Howard said.

If someone chooses not to get a flu vaccine, they should look for specific signs if they think they have the flu virus. According to Howard, the first sign of the flu is a sudden onset of fever and a lack of energy. Muscle aches are also a symptom. The original flu virus causes an upper respiratory infection. Howard said that the commonly referred to as the "stomach flu" is a different virus and is really not a flu virus at all.

Howard encourages those that think they have the flu virus to stay home and let the virus pass. If someone has a high fever, nausea, chest pain or are short of breath, they need to see a doctor, but if it is the normal flu-like ill symptoms, they should just stay away from the public and let it pass. While staying home, they should stay warm, get as much rest as possible, eat well so that their body has the energy it needs to fight off the virus and stay hydrated.

Flu vaccines are available at all  Lake Regional Health Fairs scheduled in October. For more information on the fairs, visit lakeregional.com/events or call 573-348-8222.

Other health clinics available at the lake:

Camden County:
The Camden County Health Department is offering the trivalent flu shot this year.  This year the flu shot contains 2-A's H1N1 and H3N2, 1-B Massachusetts.
 They offer flu shots on a walk -in basis for adults(18 yrs of age and older) Monday -Thursday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. They also have a limited supply of Flu Mist which is available to healthy 2 to 50 year old. Children (six months to 17 yrs) flu shots are available Monday 1-3 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday 8:30-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m .
 They are currently not offering the high dose or quadrivalent  flu shots.
 The Health Department will be at the Camden Senior Center Wed., Sept. 25 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.,  The Elks in Osage Beach on Thurs., Oct. 24 7:30 a.m.-11 a.m., and The Climax Springs Civic Center on Thurs., Oct. 31 from 7:30 a.m.-11 a.m.
Cost: $20 for everyone
They do expect Medicare and Medicaid.
Morgan County:
Flu shots are offered now until the end of the flu season at the health center in Versailles on a walk-in basis from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. The clinic has all dose types available now except for shots for people 18 and under. The shipment for those doses is expected to arrive next week.

Westside Senior Center in Laurie: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26

St. Patrick's Catholic Church: 2-4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7

Stover Community Center: 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16

Golden Beach Community Center: 8-10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19

Versailles Nutrition Site: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22

Snafu 3 in Ivy Bend: 9-11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23

Miller County:
Iberia American Legion: 10 a.m.-Noon, Wednesday, Sept. 25

Turkey Festival (North Street Stage): 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28

Lake Ozark Christian Church, 2–3 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 16

Walk-ins are welcome at Miller County Health Center Monday-Friday. Seasonal flu shots are $20 each.
Other vaccinations also available free of charge upon request for ages 11 and above while supplies last: Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis)
Miller County Health Center can bill Medicaid and Medicare Part B. Children under 8 years of age should receive their flu shot at the Health Center.
Call for appointment to minimize your wait 573-369-2359.