By GALEN HOLLEY
Some area pharmacies are temporarily out of vaccine, but health officials say it’s still a good idea to get a flu shot as soon as possible.
“Vaccination is a major help in stopping the transmission of the flu,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs with the Mississippi Department of Health.
“This year we’re having an early and intense outbreak of the flu, perhaps the most so in the last five years,” said Dobbs.
Flu season sometimes varies, but this year it started at the end of November.
Each year less than half of Americans get vaccinated, and Mississippi usually ranks high among least vaccinated states, according to Dobbs.
Mississippi doctors and emergency rooms reported an average of more than 13 patients out of every 100 with flu-like illnesses last week, accodring to Dobbs. Outside of flu season, he said, the average is about 5 in 100.
The virulence of this year’s flu is due in part to the particular strain that’s out there, Dobbs said.
This year’s strain is the H3N2, which often causes more severe symptoms, Dobbs said. Other stains include H1N1 and B.
Although the Health Department doesn’t have hard data on the number of cases of flu in the state, Mississippi is currently classified as “wide spread,” the highest classification on the spectrum. Regional is the next highest classification.
For the full story, see the printed edition of the GrenadaStar.