JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is reporting an increase in influenza activity over the past several weeks.
“We are seeing evidence of influenza activity throughout the state,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “Seasonal flu usually peaks from January to March in Mississippi, but infections can be seen before and after peak season. All Mississippians should take the threat of flu very seriously and get vaccinated now.”
In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) December 8-14, the MSDH reminds all Mississippians that vaccination 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.
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. Vaccination of healthcare personnel and caregivers of vulnerable individuals is especially important.
Dr. Dobbs said several different flu vaccine products are available this year. Check with your provider to see which is best for you.
For adults, the different types of vaccination available at all county health departments this year are as follows:
· Standard seasonal flu vaccination or nasal mist for $30;
· Quadrivalent (four strains included rather than three) flu vaccination for $30;
· High-dose flu vaccination for those 65 and older for $55; and
· Pneumococcal vaccination for $83.
For children, standard seasonal flu vaccination or nasal mist is available for $30. Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can receive the vaccination for $10.
The MSDH accepts Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP and the State and School Employees’ Health Insurance Plan (AHS).
Symptoms of seasonal flu include fever, cough, and often, extreme fatigue. Sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and a runny or stuffy nose are also often present. More severe symptoms and death can also occur.
While vaccination is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.
To locate a county health department clinic in your area or for more information on flu and pneumonia, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com. Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.