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story.lead_photo.caption The vaccines offered by the Callaway County Health Department are free and people do not need insurance to receive one. Vaccination clinics are planned at SERVE Inc. and Mokane Amvets. File photo

The Callaway County Health Department will offer free influenza vaccines next week.

Adults ages 18 and older who have not already received a flu shot can visit SERVE, Inc at 4901 County Road 304, Fulton, from 9 a.m.-noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday. No insurance card is needed.

More flu vaccine clinics are scheduled 9 a.m.-noon Jan. 21, Jan. 22, Feb. 1, Feb. 3 and Feb. 5 at SERVE. Also from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, a clinic will be held at Amvets Post 153 at 306 Broad Street in Mokane.

More clinics are expected to be added over the next two months at locations across the county — new events will be posted on the Callaway County Health Department Facebook page.

"I'm going to schedule as many clinics and give out as many flu shots as I can," CCHD nurse Tabitha Strobel said.

The flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19, but it is still the best way to protect against the flu. Both are contagious respiratory illnesses, but COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus while the flu is caused by infection with an influenza virus.

"The flu didn't just go away because COVID is here," Strobel said.

Though COVID-19 appears to be more commonly deadly, the flu can also cause mild to severe illness with symptoms like fever, cough, fatigue, headache, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, vomiting and diarrhea.

It, too, can kill. Complications of the flu can include pneumonia. Between Oct. 1, 2019-April 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 38 million Americans suffered from the flu and 22,000 died.

More information about the flu and COVID-19 from the CDC is available at cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.html.

Some influenza vaccines are manufactured using egg-based technology — for those allergic to eggs, Strobel will have egg-free vaccines.

Strobel said she is trying to get the word out in the community and invites any community centers or organizations in Callaway County interested in hosting a flu shot event to contact her. Those interested in hosting can call the health department at 573-642-6881 and ask for Strobel.

"I'm trying to reach every corner of the county and reach people where they're at," Strobel said.

The vaccines are free and people do not need insurance to receive one.

"I encourage people to come out and get it if they can," Strobel said.

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