JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has seen an increase in influenza activity over the past several weeks with flu activity now reported throughout the state.
“While this year’s flu season is in the early stages, it’s picking up quickly as we approach the typical peak season in Mississippi,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “The flu shot takes one to two weeks to produce immunity, so it’s definitely not too late to get your flu shot. Everyone should take the threat of flu very seriously and get vaccinated now.”
In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) December 7-13, the MSDH reminds all Mississippians that vaccination is the best protection against influenza. NIVW is a national observance that was established to highlight that even as we approach the holidays, it is not too late to get the vaccine.
“This year, the flu vaccine is not a perfect match for about half the flu cases nationwide,” said Dr. Dobbs. “However, it is still important to get your flu shot. It can shorten the duration and severity of the flu if you get it and it can also prevent hospitalization and death.”
Nationwide, an estimated 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu.
Dobbs added that the predominant strain we’re seeing in Mississippi this season is H3N2, which can cause more severe illness in older individuals and young children than other strains, so protection is essential. It is also very important to practice basic personal hygiene such as covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands frequently with soap and water, and staying home when you’re sick.
Seasonal flu vaccination is recommended for anyone age six months and older. Those particularly at risk for influenza complications include young children, adults 50 and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses.
“However, even young and otherwise healthy people can have complications and die from the flu,” said Dobbs.
For adults, the different types of vaccinations available this year are as follows:
- Seasonal flu vaccination for $30;
- Flu nasal mist for $35;
- High-dose flu vaccination for those 65 and older for $55; and
- Pneumococcal vaccination for $83.
The MSDH accepts Medicaid, Medicare, and the State and School Employees’ Health Insurance Plan (AHS). For those 18 and under, the MSDH will bill Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and all private health insurers for children’s vaccines. Those who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program or CHIP can receive the vaccination for $10.
To locate a county health department clinic in your area or for more information on flu and pneumonia, visit the MSDH website at HealthyMS.com/flu.
Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.
Press Contact: MSDH Office of Communications, (601) 576-7667
Note to media: After hours or during emergencies, call 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948)