JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is reporting its first case of influenza (flu) confirmed in the Mississippi Public Health Laboratory for the 2015-2016 flu season. The patient is from Northeast Mississippi.
“This not only indicates that flu has been detected in the state, but it also serves as a reminder that it is not too late to get your flu shot if you haven’t done so already,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs.
“The flu shot takes one to two weeks to produce immunity, and flu season usually peaks in January through March in Mississippi.”
Nationwide, an estimated 3,000-49,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu.
While individual flu cases are not reported to MSDH, the agency monitors flu activity through the Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) Sentinel Surveillance System, made up of healthcare providers in Mississippi who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database. Healthcare providers participating in the system also submit respiratory samples for flu testing to the MSDH Public Health Laboratory. MSDH uses this information to determine the presence and spread of flu throughout the state.
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.
For adults, the different types of vaccinations available at county health departments this year are as follows:
- Seasonal flu vaccination for $30;
- Flu nasal mist for $35; and
- High-dose flu vaccination for those 65 and older for $55
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. Insurance is accepted for children’s flu shots. The MSDH accepts Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP and the State and School Employees’ Health Insurance Plan (AHS) for adults.
While vaccination is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu and should be taken whether or not individuals are vaccinated. 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 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)