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State health officials report first pediatric influenza death for 2021-22 season

(WWBT)
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 4:31 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A child has died from the pediatric flu.

The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is reporting the state’s first confirmed pediatric influenza death for the 2021-22 flu season.

Including this death, 23 children have died of pediatric flu since pediatric flu deaths became reportable in 2008.

“We recommend that all Mississippians get their flu shots every year, but especially now with COVID-19. The flu vaccination can be given at the same time - or any time before or after - the COVID-19 vaccination,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said in a release. “There is no minimum amount of time you need to wait between these vaccinations.”

The flu shot takes about two weeks to produce immunity.

In Mississippi, flu season typically peaks January through March, according to an MSDH release.

“Influenza vaccination is especially important for young children, pregnant women, those over 65, and those with underlying health conditions,” Byers said. “Flu vaccination is the best way to protect both children and adults from serious complications as hospitalization, and in many cases, death.”

Healthcare providers report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms into a database, which is monitored by the health department.

MSDH spokeswoman Liz Sharlot said this year’s flu season likely will be more significant compared to the 2020-21 season, because of last year’s more stringent masking and isolation requirements related to the COVID pandemic.

“The best advice is to get vaccinated for flu and COVID,” she said.

Children who qualify for the Vaccines for Children program can receive flu vaccinations for $10. Insurance, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are also accepted for flu shots.

Adults who are uninsured or underinsured and have certain underlying health conditions could qualify for vaccination at their county health department.

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