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If you haven’t done so already, get a flu shot

Whether it’s fear of the needle or fear of getting sick, forgetfulness or indifference, for some reason, many people put off or avoid getting flu shots.

Some people don’t believe the influenza vaccination is effective. Some would rather risk getting the flu since they mistakenly think the shot can give them the flu.

The evidence, however, proves flu shots work.

Nationwide studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a 45 percent success rate of the vaccine for this year. While we have not seen cases as widespread this year as recent years, all agencies reporting on the flu agree that children have been hit harder this year.

The flu season is not over — experts say it could last into April or even May — and it is not too late to get a flu shot. Most clinics and several pharmacies offer the shots on a walk-in basis.

The Mississippi State Department of Health issued a press release Wednesday advising the public that we are at the peak of the flue season for our region. High flu activity and widespread transmission of the illness is being reported statewide. MSDH recommends anyone age 6 months and older be vaccinated.

“We recommend getting vaccinated now if you haven’t already,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “Influenza vaccine is especially important for young children, pregnant women, those over 65 and those with underlying health problems.”

The CDC estimates a total of 29 million infections across the U.S. this year, with 280,000 hospitalized. An estimated 16,000 flu-related deaths have been reported this year.

“Fortunately, we have not seen any pediatric deaths in Mississippi this year, but there have been 105 flu-related deaths in children nationwide this year. That is abnormally high for this time of the season.”

Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, stay at home when your children are sick and wash your hands frequently.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and muscle and body aches. 

If you have not been vaccinated this year, we encourage you to go ahead and get a vaccination and make sure your children are vaccinated, too. Consider the research — flu shots work.

The consequences of not getting the shot may be much worse than any consequence of getting the vaccination.