MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) officials encourage all Mississippians to continue to make efforts to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the flu.
MSDH reported the flu season typically peaks in January until March, but this year's flu activity is already unusually high.
MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said, "Mississippi is seeing the impact of high levels of influenza this season with more than 100 reported flu outbreaks in nursing homes and other long-term care settings. Additionally, MSDH has received reports from hospitals across the state that are experiencing increased admissions to ICUs and increased visits to emergency departments which have hospitals operating at full capacity."
Dr. Byers said the flu shot is still the best protection against flu-related complications, and while it may not prevent infection, it can drastically reduce the severity and length of illness and prevent serious complications such as hospitalizations and even death.
MSDH reports the H3N2 flu strain is the type of flu virus that is primarily causing illness in Mississippi.
Good hygienic measures are vital during this time of year. Doctors advise everyone to: cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing, stay at home when you or your child is sick for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, and wash your hands as frequently as possible.
Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive flu vaccination at country health department clinics for $10. Insurance, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are all accepted for children's flu shots. To locate a county health department clinic in your area or for more information on the flu, visit the MSDH website.