Flu still widespread across Missouri, midwest

A pharmacist holds up a flu vaccine. Vaccinations are available over the counter at most pharmacies for a modest price.

Taking precautionary measures to avoid catching the flu may not be enough without a vaccine, according to one Jefferson City doctor.

"The flu itself can be life threatening," said Dr. Daniel Gibson of Capital Region Medical Center. "We have about, 30,000 deaths per year in the United States related to flu."

Gibson said during the peak of flu season, he treats at least 10 Jefferson City residents per day for influenza symptoms. The majority, Gibson said, are not vaccinated.

According to the Center for Disease Control, influenza is widespread across the midwest, including Missouri. Gibson said children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to being affected by flu symptoms.

Currently, Capitol Region Medical Center offers vaccinations for four strains of influenza, including H1N1 or swine flu.

Gibson said many times, people who have never contracted the flu will forgo a vaccination. "Every year is a new year, and the flu strain changes year to year. Don't think because you've never gotten the flu that you won't get it this year."

Hy-Vee pharmacies typically offer the shot for $30, the price of which can be substantially reduced through insurance. A new version of the vaccine contained in a nasal spray is $40. Walgreens and other local pharmacies also offer the vaccinations.

Even though the end of flu season is about a month away, Gibson still recommends getting a flu shot as soon as possible.

The Center for Disease Control maintains a map of where influenza is most prevalent and works with doctors across the country to monitor the illness.