JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Monday, Dec. 13, leaders with the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reported the first confirmed pediatric influenza death in the state for the 2021-2022 flu season.

Including this reported death, there have been a total of 23 pediatric flu deaths reported in Mississippi since pediatric flu deaths became reportable in the 2008-2009 flu season.  

“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. There is no minimum amount of time you need to wait between these vaccinations,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. 

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

“We are starting to see increased flu activity in Mississippi through our surveillance system. It is recommended to get vaccinated now before we reach peak flu activity. Influenza vaccination is especially important for young children, pregnant women, those over 65, and those with underlying health problems,” Byers said. “Flu vaccination is the best way to protect both children and adults from serious complications such as hospitalization, and in many cases, death.” 

Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive a flu vaccination for $10. Insurance, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is 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.

Mississippians are encouraged to contact their local county health department to make an appointment for their vaccination. 

To locate a county health department clinic in your area or for more information on flu, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com/flu.