Jackson, Miss. Pediatric flu shots are now available at all Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) county clinics. Seasonal flu vaccination is recommended for anyone age six months and older.
"The flu shot is absolutely your best protection against the flu," said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. "The vaccine takes one to two weeks to produce immunity, and although flu season usually peaks in January through March, it sometimes reaches high levels as early as December. Getting your flu shot now makes sure that you’re protected in time."
Starting this year, adult flu vaccine will no longer be offered at county health department clinics except for those who are underinsured or uninsured and who meet certain high-risk criteria.
"Flu shots for insured adults are now widely available through private physicians and pharmacies, and the number of doses we were administering in our clinics has declined. However, we do encourage all Mississippians six months and older to get vaccinated. Those particularly at risk for influenza complications include young children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses," said Dr. Byers.
"It’s also important to remember that children under six months of age are too young to receive a flu shot. Caretakers of these infants need to be vaccinated to help prevent the spread of flu to this especially vulnerable age group," he said.
Nationwide, there are up to 200,000 hospitalizations and anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 deaths each year because of the flu.
Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can receive flu vaccination for $10. Insurance, Medicaid and CHIP is accepted for children's flu shots.
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)