Update, Jan. 12, 10 a.m.: Health officials on Monday said the first flu case of the 2015-2016 season has been confirmed in the Mississippi Public Health Laboratory. The patient was from the northeast part of the state. In a statement, the health department said it served as a reminder that it's not too late to get the flu shot since the peak of the season is usually in January through March in Mississippi.
Health officials say it's been a slow flu season so far, but they continue to encourage Mississippians to get their flu shot.
Mississippi state epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs says neither the national Centers for Disease Control nor the Mississippi State Department of Health have seen much flu activity so far this season, but "there have been some cases identified nationwide clearly, and there have been four pediatric deaths in our country, so there is some flu out there," he says. "That's a strong reminder that flu is not something to be taken lightly, and it can kill people."
Dr. Dobbs says there’s still time to get your flu shot, and everyone over the age of six months is recommended to have one. He says, there are some early signs that this year’s vaccine should be more effective.
"The initial information that we have from CDC shows that the strains in the community match the vaccine strains, so the vaccine seems like its going to be much more protective than last year," he says.
Dr. Andrew Adams is a family physician in Diamondhead for Hancock Medical Center. He says he’s seen very few patients with the flu so far - but that could still change.
"February is traditionally the high point, that when we start expecting the full blown flu to start spreading like wildfire through our communities," he says. "So even though we've been a little slow now, hopefully that trend will continue, but we expect it to pick up slowly and in February it will hit its height."
Other good practices to avoid getting or spreading the flu: frequent hand washing, covering up when you sneeze and staying home when you’re sick.