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 and potential complications from infection,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “Although flu season usually peaks in January through March, we’ve seen early flu activity this year. Now is the time to get vaccinated since the vaccine can take up to two weeks to produce immunity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone get their flu shot by the end of October for optimal protection this flu season.”
Like last flu season, adult flu vaccine is offered at county health department clinics only 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, pharmacies and retail centers. 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.
Nationwide, there are up to 200,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 to 49,000 deaths each year caused by the flu.
“It’s important for children as well as adults to receive the flu vaccine each season, especially children with underlying medical problems such as neuro-developmental disorders, among others. During the 2016-2017 influenza season, two pediatric flu-related deaths (children under 18 years of age) were reported in Mississippi,” said Dr. Byers.
Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive flu vaccination for $10. Insurance, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (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, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com/flu.
Follow MSDH by email and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.