Health Officials Confirm First Pediatric Flu Death of 2023-2024 Season

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JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports the first confirmed pediatric influenza death in Mississippi for the 2023-2024 flu season. Pediatric deaths are defined as deaths of individuals under 18 years of age.

Including this reported death, there have been a total of 25 pediatric flu deaths reported in Mississippi since pediatric flu deaths became reportable in the 2008-2009 flu season.

Flu season typically peaks in January through March in Mississippi, and the flu shot usually takes up to two weeks to produce immunity.

“Vaccination is the best protection against flu and the severe outcomes from flu infection.” says Interim State Epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Taylor, “All individuals 6 months of age and older are recommended to get an updated flu and COVID-19 vaccine this season.”

Flu shots for those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program are available at County Health Departments. Insurance, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are also accepted for children’s flu shots. A list of all VFC providers can be found at www.HealthyMS.com/vfc.

Adults who are underinsured or uninsured and who meet certain high-risk criteria qualify for an adult flu vaccination at MSDH county health department clinics. Flu shots for insured adults are widely available through private physicians, pharmacies and retail centers.

While vaccination is the best protection against flu, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu and should be taken whether or not individuals are vaccinated. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.

Individual flu cases are not reported to MSDH. The agency monitors flu activity through the ILI System, made up of healthcare providers in Mississippi who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database. Providers participating in the system also submit respiratory samples for flu testing to the MSDH Public Health Laboratory. State health officials use this information to determine the presence and spread of flu throughout the state.

Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.

1 comment
  1. Michael
    Michael
    November 19, 2023 at 12:17 PM

    Myths about the flu vaccine

    Myth: Influenza is not serious so I don’t need the vaccine
    Fact: As many as 650 000 people a year can die of the flu. This only represents respiratory deaths, so the likely impact is even higher. Even healthy people can get the flu, but especially people whose immune systems are vulnerable. Most people will recover within a few weeks, but some can develop complications including sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, heart or brain inflammations.

    Myth: The flu vaccine can give me the flu
    Fact: The injected flu vaccine contains an inactivated virus that cannot give you influenza. If you feel achy or slightly feverish, it is a normal reaction of the immune system to the vaccine, and generally lasts only a day or two.

    Myth: The flu vaccine can cause severe side effects
    Fact: The flu vaccine is proven to be safe. Severe side effects are extremely rare. Hundreds of millions of people have safely received the flu vaccine over the past 50 years.

    Myth: I had the vaccine and still got the flu, so it doesn’t work
    Fact: Several flu viruses are circulating all the time, which is why people may still get the flu despite being vaccinated since the vaccine is specific to one strain. However, being vaccinated improves the chance of being protected from the flu. This is especially important to stop the virus affecting people with vulnerable immune systems.

    Myth: I am pregnant so shouldn’t get the flu vaccine
    Fact: Pregnant women should especially get the flu vaccine since their immune systems are weaker than usual. The inactivated flu vaccine is safe at any stage of pregnancy.

    Myth: You don’t need to get a flu shot every year.
    Fact: The influenza virus changes (mutates) each year. So, getting vaccinated each year is important to make sure you have immunity to the strains most likely to cause an outbreak.

    Reply

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