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Flu season starting slowly; Docs encourage flu shots now

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal - 12/11/2018

Dec. 11--The 2018-19 flu season is off to a slower start than last year's season, which rated as among the most severe of the past decade.

"It's much lower compared to this time last year," said New Albany family physician Dr. Curtis Glidewell.

But that doesn't guarantee a mild flu season. Mississippi's flu season historically peaks between January and March.

"I would definitely get a flu shot as soon as possible," Glidewell said. "Hopefully, you haven't been exposed yet."

For folks who will be traveling during the holidays or want to help protect vulnerable family members, the time to get a flu shot is now. It takes about two weeks for the body to have a full immune response, Glidewell said.

Low, sporadic activity

According to the Centers for Disease Control weekly report, Mississippi was seeing low, sporadic activity through Dec. 1. So far this season, the flu circulating in the United States appears to be similar to the strains covered by the season flu shot, according to Centers for Disease Control reports.

An H1N1 virus is the most common, followed by the H3N2 virus.

Sadly, Mississippi State Department of Health reported its first pediatric flu death for the season in early December. The South Mississippi child who died had underlying health conditions. Nationally, there have been five pediatric deaths so far this year.

During the 2017-18 flu season, 183 children died from the flu across the nation, with three deaths in Mississippi.

"Nationally, about 80 percent of the pediatric deaths were in children who were not vaccinated against the flu," said Mississippi State Interim Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs earlier this month.

Recommendations

Flu shots are recommended for everyone six months and older. They are especially important for children under 5, adults over 65, pregnant women, and those with health conditions that make them more vulnerable to complications from the flu. Family members and caregivers for these high-risk groups are also strongly encouraged to get flu shots.

Some people brush off the flu shot, saying they got the flu even though they had the shot last year, Glidewell said.

"Even if you get the flu, it will not be as bad as it would be if you didn't get a flu shot," Glidewell said.

Research has shown that people with egg allergies can safely receive the flu shot, Glidewell said. Those who have had severe reactions should discuss the vaccine and how they should be observed with their health care provider.

michaela.morris@journalinc.com

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(c)2018 the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.)

Visit the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.) at www.djournal.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 
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