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Flu cases increasing in Mississippi

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 7:11 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi is starting to see an uptick in flu cases. And doctors are warning that you shouldn’t wait until later to get the shot.

The reason you shouldn’t wait around to get your flu shot is because of a concept we’ve all gotten familiar with because of COVID. It takes about two weeks to build up your immunity.

And usually cases peak between January and March here in Mississippi.

Pediatrician Dr. Catherine Phillippi says she thinks some of her patients were lulled into a false sense of security since we didn’t see much flu last year.

“I feel like our immune systems were sheltered by shelter in place and mask wearing for a year practically, you know, to be restricted from gathering,” Phillippi, who is a pediatrician at TrustCare Kids. “And now we’re loosening our recommendations, and people are starting to gather more and not wearing a mask. And so we’re gonna have normal transmissible diseases.”

Flu is one of them and she’s already noticed more positive tests in her clinic. But many of those tale-tale signs haven’t been there in those young patients.

“I used to feel like I could walk in a room and be able to tell if someone had the flu before they even told me their symptoms because they look like they feel really bad,” said Phillippi. “But I’ve been surprised this month at the ones who look relatively well. So, I don’t know if some of that is just that people are coming in earlier because they’re scared of COVID. Or, or maybe our immune systems are just, I don’t know, I don’t know what the answer to that is. But it makes it really hard to be a practitioner.”

Bottom-line is that it’s better to be safe than sorry and go get checked.

“We know actually, so far, it’s influenza A is by far the predominant type. And influenza A tends to be a bit more severe than influenza B on average,” noted Dr. Steve Threlkeld, Baptist Memorial Health Care Medical Director for Infectious Disease. “And that seems to be over 95% of the cases that we have seen so far in the United States. They can shift. You can go, you know, early on with a predominantly A flu, and then later in the season, you can have a B flu.”

With the first pediatric flu death in the state, doctors say it highlights the risks.

“So the influenza vaccine always is an important thing, and people tend to forget about it,” added Threlkeld. “And, unfortunately, I think they’re gonna tend to forget about it a little bit more, because it’s kind of just been overshadowed by COVID-19. But this year and next year will be very important times to get that flu vaccine.”

In a similar way as the COVID vaccine, a flu shot isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get the flu but it is proven to reduce severe symptoms.

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