County health clinics no longer offer adult flu vaccines

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 21, 2016

In early December, the Mississippi Department of Health reported its first case of influenza, or the flu, which indicates the official beginning of the 2016-17 flu season.

“Our surveillance indicates that we are up to sporadic flu activity in the state now,” MSDH State Epidemiologist Paul Byers said in a press release.

Nationwide, an estimated 3,000 to 49,000 people die, with 200,000 more people hospitalized each year, due to flu-like symptoms.

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Byers recommends getting vaccinated now instead of later, to avoid widespread flu activity, which could occur at any time.

However, beginning this year county health department clinics in Mississippi no longer offer adult flu vaccines, a MSDH news release states, except for those who are underinsured or uninsured and meet certain criteria. Those 18 and younger can receive flu vaccinations at any county clinic for $10, if the individuals are eligible for the Vaccine for Children program or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Insurance and Medicaid are also accepted for children’s flu shots.

Byers said the health department made this change because of the availability of flu shots in other healthcare facilities like family physicians and pharmacies, according to the MSDH news release.

The MSDH encourages all Mississippians at least six-months or older to get vaccinated. Byers said in the release that is because “those particularly at risk for influenza complications include young children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses.”

Other ways to reduce spreading the flu include covering the mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying home when a family member or members are sick and frequent hand washing, MSDH release states.

The Pearl River County Health Department is located at 7547 Highway 11 in Carriere and can be reached at 601-798-6212. For more information on the flu, visit the MSDH website at