Local health institutions are pumping up flu prevention through vaccination clinics and education.

Health officials report thousands in the United States die each year due to flu-related complications, and many more are hospitalized from it. The Center for Disease Control says the best way to prevent the flu is to obtain the flu vaccination. The Center urges getting a vaccination every six months, especially those at risk to flu-related complications, such as children, the elderly, and pregnant women.

Several flu shot clinics make the shots available for locals at little to no cost. Flu vaccinations are also offered at most pharmacies and cost about $25.

Barstow Community Hospital will be hosting a flu shot clinic starting at 9 a.m. Dec. 8. The vaccinations cost $5 per person and are available for those 9 years old or older. Hospital spokesman John Rader said the cost covers only the nurse's time to administer the shots.

The San Bernardino County Public Health Department will be hosting various clinics throughout the county, including one at Yermo School from 3-6 p.m. Thursday. The clinic will offer several hundred free vaccinations to people two years old or older. The age is limited due to supply constraints as the clinic has a few hundred vaccinations only dispersed first come, first served.

The county clinics serve as a training exercise for the department's Preparedness and Response Program. It allows them to practice for an emergency mass distribution of medication, necessary for events such as a pandemic.

Mark Peren, medical emergency planning specialist, said those who get the flu vaccination stop the spread of the virus, thus benefiting the entire community.

"Prevention is worth a pound of treatment," Peren said. "Our biggest mission in public health is to prevent the spread of disease."

Peren and Rader agreed for those who have the flu, staying home is important so as not to spread the sickness. Other preventative measures include washing hands thoroughly; sanitizing surfaces; and keeping coughs and sneezes to oneself.

"The number one preventative measure, is washing your hands," Rader said. "That's where the virus gets transferred the most."

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(760) 256-4123 or klucia@desertdispatch.com

Flu Shot clinics

Barstow Community Hospital, 555 South 7th Ave.
9-11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8
Cost: $5
First come, first serve for ages 9 and older

Yermo School, 38280 Gleason St., Yermo
3-6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1
Cost: free
First come, first serve for ages 2 and older