COLUMBIA — The Health Department has launched a new Web site designed to help Missourians understand and prepare for a flu season complicated by H1N1 flu.
"We saw the need for a very concise, single point of contact for all Missourians to go to that was easy to find and easy to navigate during this complex flu season because there has been a lot of confusion about who is at risk and how someone can prevent becoming infected," said Geni Alexander, public information officer for the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department.
A vaccine for the flu strain H1N1 has not arrived in Columbia, but residents can check the site www.fighttheflumo.com for up-to-date information on when the vaccine will be available.
The seasonal flu vaccination, meanwhile, is available at the Health Department at 1005 W. Worley St., at the following times:
The Centers for Disease Control has recommended vaccinating against the seasonal flu as soon as possible.
Health Department Director Stephanie Browning said in a news release the FightTheFluMo campaign is designed to encourage Columbia residents to work together to protect against all types of flu.
“We need each member of our community to join in this effort to fight the flu this fall,” Browning said. “We know seasonal flu is coming. We expect to see H1N1 circulating as well, and we must work together to slow the spread of flu in our community.”
For residents who are concerned about preventing the spread of the seasonal flu or H1N1, Alexander said the most important thing is to "wash those hands, using warm, soapy water. Don't touch your eyes, mouth, nose, because that is how germs spread."
Alexander added that an infected individual should remain at home until after fever symptoms have subsided, and ,furthermore, one should ensure the fever remains low for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines before venturing out of the house.
The Web site includes information specifically tailored for first responders, schools and day cares, seniors, parents and travelers, along with a list of frequently asked questions. In addition, there is a FightTheFluMO Twitter account and a Facebook page, where residents may receive up-to-the-minute updates on flu-related news items.
Visitors to the Web site can view instructional videos on hand-washing techniques and how to properly cover a cough and can also submit questions via the campaign's blog.