It has been a particularly harsh flu season, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
State Epidemiologist with the Mississippi Department of Health, Dr. Paul Byers says that flu cases across the state are up this year and that nursing homes have been affected at a higher rate.
“Mississippi is seeing the impact of high levels of influenza this season with more than 100 reported flu outbreaks in nursing homes and other long-term care settings,” Byers said. “Additionally, MSDH has received reports from hospitals across the state that are experiencing increased admissions to ICUs and increased visits to Emergency Departments which have hospitals operating at full capacity.”
According to Byers, it’s not just Mississippi as flu cases across the county are up this year. The most common form of flu this year has been the H-3 Strain which could have more severe consequences.
“H-3 has the tendency to cause more severe illness in those especially over the age of 65, children under the age of five and people with compromised immune systems. This is the kind of season that can cause more hospitalizations and more complications, and that’s why we want to make sure everyone knows that if you haven’t gotten your flu shot you should still get one,” Dr. Byers said.
Dr. Byers says that while the flu vaccine’s effectiveness may be around 30%, you should still get the shot because of its ability to reduce the severity of the flu.
“The vaccine has not been as effective as we would’ve liked at preventing illness, but what we do know is that for folks who have been vaccinated and still get the flu, their infection is much less severe. They are at much less of a risk of hospitalization or any other complications,” Byers said.
Other than getting your flu shot, the MSDH released the following tips for flu prevention:
- If you are ill do not visit family or friends—ill visitors should wait at least 48 hours after symptoms resolve before considering a visit;
- Do not take groups to visit, or accompany family or friends to the hospital/healthcare facility or emergency department;
- Limit or don’t take children to visit at the facility;
- All visitors should cover coughs and sneezes and practice hand hygiene;
- Visitors should only visit their family or friends; they should not visit or have contact with other patients or residents;
- Patients, families and visitors should follow any additional recommendations/restrictions set forth by the healthcare facility.
Dr. Byers did say that they hope that flu season hits its “peak” soon and we see a decline in cases of the flu.