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MSDH: Second pediatric influenza death in Mississippi confirmed for 2023-24 season

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The second pediatric influenza death in Mississippi for the 2023-24 flu season has been confirmed, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH).

Pediatric deaths are defined as deaths of individuals under 18 years of age, although the MSDH does not release the specific age, gender, or location of the patient. The individual in the case had not received a flu vaccine for the 2023-24 flu season.

“We highly encourage people to get a flu shot. A vaccination won’t necessarily keep you from getting the flu, although it can reduce your risk of infection and is the best protection to keep you from a severe outcome,” Interim State Epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Taylor stated. “With a few months left in this season, we recommend everyone six months of age and older consider a flu and COVID-19 vaccination.”

The first pediatric death caused by influenza for the current season was reported in November 2023 as doctor visits for flu-like illnesses had increased drastically several weeks prior.

RELATED: Flu activity on the rise in Mississippi, health experts advise vaccination

Flu season typically peaks in January through March in Mississippi, with the flu shot usually taking up to two weeks to produce immunity.

At this time, the MSDH is recommending those 18 and under and adults who meet certain high-risk criteria to receive a flu vaccination at county health department clinics.

While vaccination is the best protection against the flu, the MSDH says that there are other things you can do to reduce the spread of the flu whether you are vaccinated or not. These measures include:

  • Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
  • Staying at home when you or your children are sick
  • Washing your hands frequently and keeping them away from your face

The MSDH monitors flu activity through the ILI System, made up of healthcare providers in Mississippi who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database.

Providers participating in the system also submit respiratory samples for flu testing to the MSDH Public Health Laboratory. State health officials use this information to determine the presence and spread of flu throughout the state.

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