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State Health Leaders Urge Flu Shot Ahead of Normal Flu Season

By Paul Boger | Published 11 Dec 2013 08:30am | comments

Mississippi is seeing an increase in influenza activity ahead of the state's usual flu season. As MPB's Paul Boger reportsstate health officials are continuing to urge residents to take preventative measures before it's too late.

Dr. Skip Nolan studies infectious diseases at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He says Mississippi is one of three states already experiencing flu activity, and it's hard to predict how bad the flu will be from year to year.

"It varies from year to year, and it varies as to what strain of influenza is circulating." said Nolan."So far Mississippi has seen widespread flu activity and most states have not."

Normally, Mississippi's flu season peaks in January and lasts until March, but data collected by the Mississippi Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control show that cases of the flu have already been spreading. State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs says this flu season is similar to last years.

Certainly our flu seasons are variable from year to year, but the majority of cases will happen in the winter months." said Dobbs. "December is not an atypical time for flu cases to start showing up. Last year was a relatively early season with cases starting in November and increasing in December. In some ways we're having a season the mirrors last season."

That's why officials at the Mississippi Department of Health are urging residents to get vaccinated. While Dr. Dobbs admits every Mississippian should get a flu shot, he says there are some at higher risk of flu related complications.

"That includes young children, older individuals, people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women actually have a very high risk of complications from the flu." said Dobbs. "Although it is recommended for everyone, we put extra emphasis on those people that have higher risk from bad outcomes."

Whilevaccination is the best protection, Mississippianscan also reduce the spread of fluby covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.

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