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Fighting the good fight in flu season

Mary Currier

Mary Currier

The need remains for folks to continue to get vaccinated

 

The H1N1 flu season that affected nearly 1,300 Mississippians earlier this year has slacked off, but with seasonal flu months approaching, there is still a need for people to get vaccinated and take precautions. 

Dr. Mary Currier, interim state health officer for the Mississippi State Department of Health, said officials have seen a decrease in cases through its Sentinel Surveillance System, a group of 70 physicians and healthcare clinics that report cases to the state health department. 

Since May 15, 1,274 cases of H1N1 swine flu have been confirmed in Mississippi by laboratory testing, according to the health department. 

“We certainly had a flu season in August, September and October. Now we’re coming up to the regular flu season, and we don’t know if we’ll see 2009 H1N1 or some other strain,” Currier said. 

As the seasonal flu months near, it is time to get vaccinated and to take other precautions to prevent contracting the virus. 

Currier said all residents should get vaccinated for the seasonal flu virus, and priority groups should also get the H1N1 vaccine. 

Priority groups to receive the H1N1 vaccination by injection are pregnant women, six-month-old infants to 24-year-old adults, those living or caring for infants younger than six months old, healthcare providers and emergency medical service officials and anyone 25 to 64 years old with a medical condition that puts them at risk for the illness. 

The H1N1 nasal mist vaccine is available at local health departments for 2- to 49-year-olds who have no chronic, underlying health conditions. 

The health department reported 574,700 swine flu doses have been allocated for Mississippi schools, county health departments and private providers, and an effort is underway to vaccinate students at Mississippi schools. 

Seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccinations are available at local health departments and are free. Private healthcare providers also have available seasonal flu vaccinations, and some have H1N1 vaccinations. 

“As we get more vaccines, it will eventually be available to anyone who wants it,” Currier said. 

To help prevent illness: 

• Wash hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer 

• Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, or cough into a tissue and then wash your hands 

• Avoid close contact with those who are sick 

• If you are ill, stay home until you are well, unless you need to see a doctor.  

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