Coast Pediatricians Treating More Kids For Flu

The flu is all over Mississippi, but the vaccine is in short supply. The good news according to state health officials is that the number of cases so far is about on par to last year. If you haven't gotten a flu shot you'll have to search to find a doctor or drug store with the vaccine.

On the coast, the state health department office only has the children's vaccine available and it's the children who are among the most susceptible. One local pediatrician told us she treated 12 children for flu on Wednesday.

When it was time for 4 year-old Makayla to get her flu shot, she wasn't not too thrilled but her family was.

Makayla's grandmother said Ann Shaw believes, "Every parent that has a small child needs to have them get a shot to prevent them from taking the flu, because it's deadly without it. Prevention is 100 percent of everything."

Doctor Juan Beteta wishes more parents had considered prevention early in the flu season. The number of children he's seeing with the flu is up about 20 percent over last year.

"The vaccine has been available for several months now and people weren't asking for it even though we were promoting those," said Dr. Beteta. "We're trying to get as many people immunized as we could. It wasn't until, say, the severe cases appeared elsewhere that people started asking for the immunizations."

So far state health officials say Mississippi has escaped the troubles of other states. In Texas pediatricians are swamped with sick children. In Colorado, a mutated form of the virus has killed nearly a dozen children.

Dr. Bob Travnicke of the State Health Department said, "Everybody seems to agree there are more mortality, more deaths in children but how this will play out in the next few months, really no one can predict. We're in sort of an epidemic situation. Maybe not here in Mississippi but certainly around us. With everybody traveling around the country, it certainly wouldn't be very long before whatever is in Texas would be here."

For Makayla's family the quick pain of a shot is well worth it to keep her healthy.

The state is working with the Centers for Disease Control and prevention to find more vaccine for those in high risk groups. If you didn't get the flu shot experts say the best way to avoid spreading the flu is to wash your hands frequently.