Independence is the only area city in Eastern Jackson County with its own health department. It is paid for by taxpayer dollars and part of the city budget.

Independence is the only area city in Eastern Jackson County with its own health department. It is paid for by taxpayer dollars and part of the city budget.

This flu season demonstrates just how valuable of an amenity (or necessity) that can be.

For the past three Thursdays, Independence residents in the most susceptible ages and conditions have had the opportunity to get vaccinations for the H1N1 virus at the Independence Health Department at 515 S. Liberty St.

Hundreds of residents have taken advantage each week, and there is another opportunity to get the FluMist nasal vaccination from 3 to 7 p.m. next Thursday.

Even more impressive, vaccinations that cost $15 to $25 in other places have been free of charge at the Health Department.

The city is not trying to make money on people’s concerns about contracting the H1N1 virus, otherwise known as swine flu, it is just trying to prevent a pandemic, and to keep people from getting sick.

While long lines in the rain hampered last week’s vaccinations, the staff at the health department amended the procedures this week, and the lines out the door were practically non-existent.

Residents of Blue Springs or other area towns don’t have a health department to turn to in situations like these, and rely on the Jackson County Health Department for its services, though it has offered no public flu shots so far this season.

 Folks in Independence should appreciate – and take advantage of – their own health department, which does other functions throughout the year such as health inspections, animal services and code compliance, as well as ongoing health eduction and communication.

Director Larry Jones and his staff deserve praise for making the H1N1 flu shots available, and executing a plan with public health as the No. 1 priority.