JACKSON, Miss. – In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is reminding all Mississippians that the flu vaccine is the best protection against influenza.
NIVW is a national observance that was established to highlight the importance of encouraging influenza vaccination after the holiday season into January and beyond.
“The holidays are the perfect time to spend with family and friends, but unfortunately the holidays are also the time that flu can spread to loved ones who are not protected by influenza vaccine,” said Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.
“Seasonal flu usually peaks from January to March in Mississippi, but infections can be seen before and after peak season. Mississippians should take the threat of flu very seriously and get vaccinated now,” said Dr. Byers.
Those particularly at risk for influenza complications include young children, adults 50 and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses.
Flu vaccinations for adults are $20 at all county health departments. Those six months through 18 years can receive flu vaccinations for $10. This year, there is a new vaccine for senior adults 65 and older designed to boost immunity and provide increased protection against influenza infection. The senior adult vaccine is $50 but is covered by Medicare Part B. Medicare and Medicaid recipients are asked to bring their cards with them to their county health department.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recent estimates of the number of annual influenza-associated deaths average 23,000 per year in the United States.
Symptoms of seasonal flu include fever, cough, and often, sore throat. Extreme fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and a runny or stuffy nose are also often present. Severe symptoms may last three to six days, and the cough may last for weeks.
While shots are the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu. These measures include covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands thoroughly and frequently.
For more information on NIVW or the importance of influenza vaccinations, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com or the CDC website at www.cdc.gov.