Meridian Star

December 4, 2012

Health officials report increased flu early in the season

from staff reports
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting an increase in influenza activity over the past several weeks, more than a month before the typical beginning of peak flu season.

    In recognition of this week being National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 2-8), the MSDH is reminding Mississippians that the flu vaccine is the best protection against influenza.

    In a news release issued Monday MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs said: "We are seeing widespread influenza activity throughout the state. Seasonal flu usually peaks from January to March in Mississippi, but infections can be seen before and after peak season. Mississippians should take the threat of flu very seriously and get vaccinated now."

    Seasonal flu vaccinations are available at all county health departments.

    This year, flu shots are recommended for everyone six months of age and older, especially those at risk from influenza complications: young children, adults 50 and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses.

    • Prices: Flu shots for children six months through 18 years are $10. Adult flu shots are just $25. Specialized flu shots, designed to boost immunity for those 65 and over, are available for $50, covered by Medicare part B.

    • Protective hygiene: Remember to cover your cough, wash hands often and thoroughly, and stay home if you're sick to protect yourself and others.

    • Pneumonia: Pneumonia is the deadliest complication from flu. More than 600 Mississippians a year die from flu and pneumonia. The pneumonia vaccine can reduce the severity of pneumonia and the chance of hospitalization or death. If you have not had a recent pneumonia vaccination, check with your doctor or county health department to get one.