All Missourians can now protect themselves against H1N1 -

All Missourians can now protect themselves against H1N1

You've done the hand sanitizer and you wash your hands religiously, but starting today you can finally get the vaccine to fight off H1N1.

St. Louis County officials say they have plenty to go around, and now you don't have to worry about health restrictions.

After talking to my doctor, I chose to get my H1N1 vaccine. It was just like a regular shot in the arm, complete with a little soreness at the injection site!  Don't worry though, it only lasts about a day.

Starting at 8:30 Monday morning, the health department will vaccinate anyone who walks through its doors.  Health officials say it is the most effective tool to fight the spread of the H1N1 virus that has already claimed the lives of more than 10,000 Americans.

In Missouri, it represents at least 90 percent of the cases reported in the current flu season, but unlike the seasonal flu, H1N1afflicts more young people, contributing to 61 school closings so far this year.

Health departments have been working on vaccinating those most at risk, but now, with more vaccine available, everyone is urged to get the shot or the nasal spray vaccine.

Two clinics are available this week to get vaccinated. And, it won't cost you a thing nor do you need to make an appointment at the following locations:

-North Central County Health Center

4000 Jennings Station Road in Pine Lawn

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, except Thursday when the H1N1 clinic will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

-South County Health Center

4580 South Lindbergh Boulevard in Sunset Hills

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, except Wednesday when the H1N1 clinic will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

More locations are expected to open later this week, including in Illinois. Starting Tuesday, everyone in Illinois can get vaccinated at local health departments or private physicians.

Missouri's health department has already received more than 200,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine, and additional shipments are expected in the following weeks.

Despite the availability of additional vaccine, the health department emphasizes that you should not lower your guard! The traditional methods of prevention are still important to follow:

-Cover your mouth whenever you sneeze or cough.

-Wash your hands regularly, especially after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose.

-Keep a distance of three feet between you and other people.

-Stay home if you are sick (or keep your children home if they are sick).

-Go home if you become sick (or pick your children up from school early if they become sick).

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