“Flu season starts later in the Delta and Mississippi because of the warm climate but we have seen an increase in the southern part of the state in places like Jackson, Hattiesburg and on the coast,” said Dr. Alfio Rausa, District Health Officer for the Mississippi State Department of Health.
In Mississippi flu season generally starts at the end of December and lasts until January or February.
While it’s important for everyone who is physically able get vaccinated for the flu, it is especially important for pregnant women, seniors who are 65 and older and those with chronic health conditions to get flu shots.
Infants under six months cannot receive flu shots but there are still things you can do to keep your young child from becoming sick. “Moms, dads, siblings and anyone else who will come into contact with the baby should all get vaccinated. If you surround the newborn with people who have already been vaccinated there’s a greater chance the child won’t get sick,” said Rausa.
Seniors should also get a flu shot because of a decrease in our immune system as we age leaves us open to the virus.
“The elderly are more susceptible to the virus because their system is wearing down. This comes with age. It’s important for seniors to get the flu shot because they may have a more serious case and could die,” said Rausa.
“If you get 70 to 80 percent of the population vaccinated the community becomes more protected. This is because vaccinated people surround the people who are susceptible. This protects against an outbreak,” said Rausa.
If you do happen to contract the flu there are over the counter medications, such as Tamiflu, that can cut down on the length of your illness. “Within the first 24 hours of developing flu symptoms you can get medication that will help combat the virus, but this medication must be prescribed,” said Rausa.
The easiest way to avoid catching the flu is to get a flu shot, but you can also do things like wash your hands more, avoid touching your face, cough and sneeze into your elbow instead of your hand and stay away from sick people.