COLUMBIA — A philanthropic group based in Columbia is funding free flu vaccinations this fall for children in Boone County.
The David B. Lichtenstein Foundation is giving $122,341 to offset the loss of federal funds that financed the vaccinations the past two years.
The money will allow the Health Department to make free seasonal flu vaccinations available to all Boone County children 6 months to 18 years old.
On Aug. 20, Geni Alexander, spokeswoman for the Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department, said federal funds weren't expected this year to offer free immunizations. She said the foundation stepped up after learning about the shortfall from news reports from the Missourian and KOMU/NBC.
“We agreed that it’s a worthy cause," Davida Layer, chairwoman of the David B. Lichtenstein Foundation, said. "We decided we wanted the kids to be immunized.”
The $122,341 will cover about 6,200 vaccinations and pay nurses to conduct flu clinics in Boone County elementary schools, Alexander said. “Any child in Boone County will be vaccinated with parental consent,” she said.
Vaccinations will begin in mid-October in most public elementary schools and in the private schools that want to participate. Children and adults can also be immunized at the Health Department clinic at 1005 W. Worley St. beginning Oct. 3. Flu vaccinations are available without an appointment, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
In 2009, the government purchased the vaccine and offered the local Health Department additional funding of about $14,000 for staff expenses, Alexander said. Last year, the vaccine s and staff expenses were covered by a one-time federal grant.
The David B. Lichtenstein Foundation is a philanthropic organization founded by Davida Layer’s grandfather, David B. Lichtenstein. Initially based in St. Louis, the foundation moved to Columbia in March.
Health care is among the main interests of the foundation in Columbia, Layer said. Some other sponsored projects in the field are the Ernest and Eugenia Wyatt Guest House, a house for cancer patients and their families, and Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis, which helps children with disabilities.