A Marshall County teenager became Mississippi's first confirmed influenza case of the 2014-2015 season last week, prompting state health officials to remind residents to get their flu shots.
The Mississippi State Department of Health said the flu causes approximately 36,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations around the nation each year. Individuals who are at a higher risk for complications include young children, those 50 and older, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses.
State Epidemiologist Thomas Dobbs said that now is the best time to get the flu shot.
“The flu shot takes one to two weeks to produce immunity, and although flu season usually peaks in January through March, it sometimes reaches high levels as early as December,” Dobbs said.
Health officials recommend that anyone six months or older be vaccinated.
Vaccinations currently available for adults are the seasonal flu vaccination, flu nasal mist, high-dose flu vaccination and pneumococcal vaccination.
In addition to being vaccinated, numerous other actions can be taken to reduce the chance of getting or spreading the flu. These include frequent hand washing and covering the mouth when coughing.