Preparing for the Flu Season
After the long summer months, there is nothing better than the thought of fall. Who doesn’t love the idea of cooler temps and pumpkin spice lattes! Decreasing temperatures results in various outcomes. One of those outcomes is the decrease of the mosquito and insect population, which means as fall is upon us, the threat of the newly frightening Zika virus dissipates. Unfortunately, other health concerns for DeSoto County families emerge.
The autumn season marks the beginning of the flu and pneumonia season, which according to Kara Brown, managing partner of Mid-South Perfusion, LLC andan integral part of the heart and lung surgical teams, who perform heart and lung surgeries at Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto and other various healthcare institutions, advanced cases of the flu virus and pneumonia during the fall and winter months is the cause of many life-threatening cases in the area. According to Brown, some patients wait too long before seeking a diagnosis and treatment, and what should have been a treatable case of pneumonia ends up claiming the lives of healthy individuals. She recommends seeing one’s general practitioner at the onset of any flu-like or pneumonia-like symptoms. Seeing a physician quickly not only protects you and your children, but also the health and well-being of others in the DeSoto County region. But why wait until you recognize flu-like symptoms to take action?
Being proactive against illnesses like the flu is one’s best bet at maintaining his or her health during the autumn and winter months. Flu vaccines become available to the general public every fall, and according to the Mississippi State Department of Health, July served as the National Immunization Awareness Month, appointed as such in preparation for parents sending their children back to school in August. In a public statement released on August 1, 2016, MSDH State Epidemiologist, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, stated, “Immunization is a group effort that benefits the entire community… When your child is immunized, not only does it protect them, but it protects those children around them who cannot be immunized because of a medical condition or because they’re too young.” This not only serves true for diseases, such as the Measles and Mumps, but also for the Flu and Pneumonia. According to the CDC U.S. Weekly Influenza Surveillance report, “No influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 35…” (of 2016). However, “…a total of 85 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported during the 2015-2016 season.” This is a preventable tragedy.
The Mississippi State Department of Health recommends anyone age six months and older to receive the flu vaccination. For adults, the different types of vaccinations available at county health departments are as follows:
• Seasonal flu vaccination for $30
• Flu nasal mist for $35
• High-dose flu vaccination for those 65 years of age and older for $55
Citizens 18 years of age and under, who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program and/or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), can receive the flu vaccination for a minimal charge. Also, insurance is accepted for children’s flu shots, and the Mississippi State Department of Health accepts Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, and the State and School Employees’ Health Insurance Plan (AHS) for adults.
The MSDH also stated, “While vaccination is the best protection, 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.”
So, let’s all keep this fall season about enjoying football games and trick-or-treating by being proactive about our personal and family’s health. The health and well-being of our communities relies on each of us to do our part.
By Summer Dawn