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Flu has arrived in region

The Mississippi State Department of Health reported this week the state’s first case of influenza.

The individual with the flu is in Northeast Mississippi. Where exactly, the health department couldn’t release.

This means it’s official that the flu is in the region.

“This not only indicates that flu has been detected in the state, but it also serves as a reminder that it is not too late to get your flu shot if you haven’t done so already,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

“The flu shot takes one to two weeks to produce immunity, and flu season usually peaks in January through March in Mississippi.”

We urge you, if you are in a group of people that is at high risk for the virus, to go get a shot somewhere. They can be given at the doctor’s office or even at places like CVS Pharmacy or other pharmacies. You can also go get a regular shot, the flu nasal mist and a high-dose shot at the local health department.

While the holidays are over and people are not piling in the car to go be in large groups of people at parties and family gatherings, the danger is still there to pick up the virus. It can be picked up at day care, your place of employment and even in a crowded grocery store.

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

If you pick up the flu, that means at least a week off of work and maybe more. Recovery time increases as you get older and remnants of the virus can stay with you a month or more, whether it is a lingering cough or fatigue. Nobody wants to deal with that, so please get vaccinated and protect yourself against the worst strains that have been identified. By being responsible and getting vaccinated you will not only protect yourself, but you also will protect the groups of people who are at high risk: those who can’t get the shot because of allergies to eggs, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, pregnant women and more.