Flu season is in full swing in Mississippi.
The latest data released by the CDC shows that Mississippi is among the 16 states experiencing “widespread” flu activity.
At the beginning of flu season, the Mississippi Department of Health strongly recommended that everyone get a flu shot.
“We recommend getting vaccinated now before we reach peak flu activity. Influenza vaccine is especially important for young children, pregnant women, those over 65, and those with underlying health problems,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said. “Flu vaccine is the best way to protect both children and adults from serious complications such as hospitalization, and in many cases, death.”
Dr. Byers said that flu season can occur as early as November and as late as March in Mississippi but usually peaks anywhere from December through February.
Pediatric flu shots are now available at all Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) county clinics. Seasonal flu vaccination is recommended for anyone ages six months and older to prevent the spread of flu, and more importantly, save lives.
Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive a flu vaccination for $10. Insurance, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is accepted for children’s flu shots.
Adults who are underinsured or uninsured and who meet certain high-risk criteria qualify for an adult flu vaccination at MSDH county health department clinics. Flu shots for insured adults are now widely available through private physicians, pharmacies and retail centers.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and body aches, and fatigue. Most people recover from the flu without complications, but nationwide there are up to 200,000 hospitalizations from flu each year.
While vaccination is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu and should be taken whether or not individuals are vaccinated. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.
To locate a county health department clinic in your area or for more information on flu, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com/flu.