"Now is the time to get your flu shot because it takes about three weeks to get full protection and that will carry you towards Thanksgiving. The season starts in December and runs through February so you'd be protected through the traditional flu season," said Dr. Alfio Rausa, district health officer of the Mississippi State Department of Health.
The flu vaccine lasts about six months.
Symptoms of seasonal flu include fever, cough, and often, extreme fatigue. Sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and a runny or stuffy nose are also often present. More severe symptoms and death can also occur.
Since the traditional season has yet to start, there have been no concentrated cases of the flu in the state.
"The flu activity so far has been scattered around the state. There are no big numbers, but it's early. It's the right time to get your flu shot," said Rausa.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services there are steps you can take in your daily life to help protect you from getting the flu:
"Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine."
The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated and anyone above the age of six months can get the flu shot.
"The way to protect small children who are under six months of age is to have the family vaccinated because if you're surrounded by people who have been vaccinated then it is very unlikely that they are going to carry the flu virus to an unprotected person," said Rausa.
Rausa explained that even if someone is sick or on antibiotics, they can still get the flu shot. Antibiotics are for bacteria, while the flu shot is for a virus.
"There is a high dose flu preparation particularly for people over 65. As you get older your body's ability to develop antibodies is less. The high does has four times as much antigen, the stuff that makes you develop antibodies, in it and the side effects are not that different," said Rausa.
He also explained getting the flu shot will not cause any recipient to get the flu virus because the virus injected is dead.
"The vaccine is an attenuate virus, it's already dead," said Rausa.
" Seasonal flu shots are now available at all Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) county clinics," according to a news release by the Mississippi State Department of Health.
Prices for the flu shot have risen, however, the cost of a flu shot is covered by many health insurance agencies.
For adults, the different types of vaccinations available this year are as follows: Standard seasonal flu vaccination or nasal mist for $30; Quadrivalent (four strains included rather than three) flu vaccination for $30; High-dose flu vaccination for those 65 and older for $55; and Pneumococcal vaccination for $83.
For children, standard seasonal flu vaccination or nasal mist is available for $30. Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program or the Children’s Health Insurance Program can receive the vaccination for $10.
The MSDH accepts Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP and the State and School Employees’ Health Insurance Plan.
To locate a county health department clinic in your area or for more information on flu and pneumonia, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com.