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Flu season is here; get the vaccine

We have said it before but it bears repeating: Get a flu vaccination.

The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting that flu activity has increased in Mississippi — and nationwide— in the past two weeks.

The predominant flu strain circulating this season is H1N1, which can particularly affect children.

“Children under 4 years of age now have the highest rate of hospitalization for flu than any other age group in the nation. In addition, 13 U.S. pediatric influenza deaths have been reported for the current flu season by the CDC as of December 29. In Mississippi, one pediatric flu death has been reported so far this season,” MSDH reported. “Older adults are also vulnerable to the flu, and outbreaks of flu in nursing homes have been reported to MSDH.”

Flu season typically peaks in January through March in Mississippi, and the flu shot usually takes up to two weeks to produce immunity, MSDH reported.

“Flu shots are recommended for all those six months and older. 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, MSDH said. 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.

Be smart when it comes to the flu: get vaccinated and protect yourself and those you love.