First flu cases confirmed in Mississippi

The following is a press release from the Mississippi Department of Health:

The first flu cases for the 2010-2011 influenza season have been confirmed in Jasper and Perry counties, serving as a reminder that all Mississippians should get their flu vaccine in the coming weeks. Flu shots will be available at all Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) county health departments by the end of this week. Starting this year, the seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for anyone age six months and older. 

"The 2009 H1N1 flu strain is included in this year's seasonal flu vaccine so only one flu shot is needed for most people. This vaccine is the best way you can protect yourself and your family from influenza," said State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier. "Seasonal flu usually peaks in January through March in Mississippi, but infections can be seen before and after peak season. Mississippians should take the threat of any type of flu very seriously."

Those particularly at risk for influenza complications include young children, adults 50 and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses.

At all county health departments, flu vaccinations for adults are $20. Those six months through 18 years can receive flu vaccinations for $10. This year, there is a new vaccine for senior adults 65 and older designed to boost immunity and provide increased protection against influenza infection. The senior adult vaccine is $50 but is covered by Medicare Part B. Medicare and Medicaid recipients are asked to bring their cards with them to their county health department.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recent estimates of the number of annual influenza-associated deaths average 23,000 per year in the United States.

Symptoms of seasonal flu include fever, cough, and often, sore throat. Extreme fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and a runny or stuffy nose are also often present. Severe symptoms may last three to six days, and the cough may last for weeks.

While shots are the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu. These measures include covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands thoroughly and frequently.

To locate a county health department clinic in your area or for more information on flu and pneumonia, visit the MSDH website at or call 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948).