Health Dept. reports first influenza case of 2016

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Monday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported the first flu case of the 2015-2016 flu season in Northeast Mississippi.

Lou Stockstill, the director of nursing at the Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home, recommends people get their annual flu vaccination if they haven’t done so already.

“It’s very important to get your vaccination. It’s about protecting yourself and everybody around you,” Stockstill said.

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The flu can be a serious ailment. It claims the lives of an estimated 3,000 to 49,000 people and causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations annually in the U.S., according to a press release from the MSDH.

MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs said in the press release that flu season peaks between January and March.

“It is not too late to get your flu shot if you haven’t done so already. The flu shot takes one to two weeks to produce immunity,” Dobbs said.

The MSDH recommends people get their yearly flu vaccinations starting when they are at 6-months-old. The people most at risk for developing serious flu-like symptoms include young children, pregnant women, adults more than 50 years of age and people suffering from chronic diseases.

“I work with a high-risk population, the elderly, and whenever they’re exposed to the flu, it’s more risky,” Stockstill said. She added that healthy people are still at risk for developing the flu and should get vaccinated.

Vaccinations are available at Pearl River County’s health department located at 7547 Highway 11 in Carriere. People can opt to receive a seasonal flu vaccination for $30, a flu nasal mist for $35 or a high-dose flu vaccination, recommended for people under 65, for $55.

Besides vaccinations, MSDH advises people do the following to avoid contracting the flu this season:

—Keep mouth covered when coughing or sneezing.

—Stay at home if ill.

—Wash hands frequently.

Stockstill added that people experiencing flu-like symptoms should pay a visit to the doctor, who can prescribe anti-viral medication.

Flu-like symptoms include, chills, cough, sore throat, fever and runny or stuffy nose, Stockstill said.

For more information about flu prevention, visit the MSDH website at