Flu vaccine available to children at Health Department Clinics

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Mississippi State Department of Health recently released news that pediatric flu shots are now available at all county clinics for children 6 months or older.

“The flu shot is absolutely your best protection against the flu,” MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said in a news release. “The vaccine takes one to two weeks to produce immunity, and although flu season usually peaks in January through March, it sometimes reaches high levels as early as December. Getting your flu shot now makes sure that you’re protected in time.”

The release states that adult flu vaccines will no longer be provided at county health department clinics in Mississippi starting this year—with the exception of those who meet certain high-risk criteria.

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“Flu shots for insured adults are now widely available through private physicians and pharmacies, and the number of doses we were administering in our clinics has declined,” Byers said in a release.

However, he still encourages all Mississippians to be vaccinated, especially those at risk for influenza complications.

Byers said that children under 6 months of age should not receive a flu shot. Instead, the caretakers of the infant should be vaccinated to prevent spreading the flu to them.

On average, there are nearly 200,000 hospitalizations nationwide as well as 3,000 to 49,000 deaths each year due to the flu, the release states.

“While vaccination is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of the flu and should be taken whether or not individuals are vaccinated,” the release states.

These measures, according to the MSDH, include staying at home when a family member is sick, washing hands frequently and covering mouths when coughing and sneezing.

Flu vaccinations for people 18-years-old and younger and those eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive flu vaccinations for $10.

For more information on flu and pneumonia, visit the MSDH website at www.healthyms.com/flu.