JACKSON, Miss. – Although Mississippi has seen low activity so far this flu season, other parts of the country are seeing severe respiratory illness among young to middle-aged adults who have been diagnosed with flu in recent weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most reported cases of severe illness and death occurred in unvaccinated individuals.
The CDC has identified the 2009 H1N1 flu strain as the virus currently in circulation this flu season. This same strain caused severe illness and deaths in Mississippi, especially in young adults, during the 2013-2014 flu season.
“The good news is that this year’s flu vaccine has proven to be a good match and includes protection against the H1N1 strain,” said Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “With the increased activity in other parts of the country, it’s important to get your flu shot if you haven’t done so already, especially if you are traveling.”
Recent reports from the CDC show an increase in deaths from pneumonia and flu in January, accounting for approximately 7 percent of all deaths last month.
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. 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 www.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)