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Health Officials Confirm First Pediatric Flu Death of 2023-2024 Season

On Wednesday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported the first confirmed pediatric influenza death in Mississippi for the 2023-2024 flu season.

Pediatric deaths are defined as deaths of individuals under 18 years of age. 

Including this reported death, there have been a total of 25 pediatric flu deaths reported in Mississippi since pediatric flu deaths became reportable in the 2008–2009 flu season.

Flu season typically peaks in January through March in Mississippi, and the flu shot usually takes up to two weeks to produce immunity. 

“Vaccination is the best protection against flu and the severe outcomes from flu infection.” says Interim State Epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Taylor, “All individuals 6 months of age and older are recommended to get an updated flu and COVID-19 vaccine this season.”

Flu shots for those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program are available at County Health Departments. Insurance, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program are also accepted for children’s flu shots. A list of all VFC providers can be found at www.HealthyMS.com/vfc

Adults who are underinsured or uninsured and who meet certain high-risk criteria qualify for an adult flu vaccination at MSDH county health department clinics. Flu shots for insured adults are widely available through private physicians, pharmacies and retail centers. 

While vaccination is the best protection against flu, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu and should be taken whether or not individuals are vaccinated. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.  

Individual flu cases are not reported to MSDH. The agency monitors flu activity through the ILI System, made up of healthcare providers in Mississippi who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database.  

Providers participating in the system also submit respiratory samples for flu testing to the MSDH Public Health Laboratory. State health officials use this information to determine the presence and spread of flu throughout the state. 

For more information on flu, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com/flu. Follow MSDH by email and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect


Staff report

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