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Get flu vaccine before peak of season

Flu season is coming soon, and the Mississippi State Department of Health is encouraging people to get vaccinated. Seasonal flu vaccination is recommended for anyone aged six months and older as a way to prevent the spread of flu, and more importantly, save lives.

All county health clinics have the pediatric flu vaccine available.

“Last year an estimated 80,000 adults nationwide died from the flu, with 183 influenza deaths in children – three of which were in Mississippi,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “We know that nationally, 80 percent of the pediatric deaths were in children who were not vaccinated against the flu. Flu vaccine is the best way to protect both children and adults from serious complications such as hospitalization, and in many cases, death.”

Flu season in Mississippi usually peaks in January through March, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the virus sooner.

“We recommend getting vaccinated now before we reach peak flu activity. Influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older,” he said. “Those particularly at risk for influenza complications include young children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses. It is especially important for persons at high risk and those in close contact with them to be vaccinated to prevent the severe complications that can come with infection.”

County health departments only provide adult flu vaccines to certain individuals who qualify: uninsured, underinsured or those who meet high-risk criteria. If you fall outside of those groups, you will need to get a vaccine through a private physician, pharmacy or at other locations that offer them.

The pediatric flu vaccine is for  those 18 and under who are eligible. The cost is $10. Insurance, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is accepted for children’s flu shots.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and body aches and fatigue. Most people recover from the flu without complications, but nationwide there are up to 200,000 hospitalizations from flu each year, MSDH reported.

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, according to MSDH. 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.

The county health department in Brookhaven is located at 1212 Northpark Lane NE.