While much of the recent conversation surrounding public health has been centered around the growing concerns related to the spread of the coronavirus, health officials are reminding you that flu season is still ongoing.
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, the region has entered its peak flu season and the state is currently seeing “high flu activity with widespread transmission.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported an estimated 29 million flu cases across the country with 280,000 hospitalizations. Around 16,000 flu cases have resulted in death, including an increase in the proportion of pediatric deaths.
“Overall, the number of hospitalizations nationwide are about average for this time of the year. However, the rates among children and young adults are higher than in previous seasons,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.
Dr. Byers went on to say that young children are especially prone to complications from the flu.
“Children are especially susceptible to complications from the flu, especially those younger than 5 years old,” he said. “Fortunately, we have not seen any pediatric deaths in Mississippi this year, but there have been 105 flu-related deaths in children nationwide so far this year. That is abnormally high for this time of the season. “
Health officials say that it’s not too late to get your flu shot.
“We recommend getting vaccinated now if you haven’t already. Influenza vaccine is especially important for young children, pregnant women, those over 65, and those with underlying health problems,” said Dr. Byers. “Flu vaccine is the best way to protect both children and adults from serious complications such as hospitalization, and in many cases, death.”
Pediatric flu shots are available at all Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) county clinics.
To help prevent the spread of the flu, the MSDH recommends that you:
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Wash your hands frequently
- Stay home when you’re sick
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and body aches, and fatigue.
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 widely available through private physicians, pharmacies and retail centers.