“I’d be willing to bet that we are probably leading the nation in flu cases,” said Dr. Edward Hill, family physician at Family Medicine Residency Center at North Mississippi Medical Center. “Northeast Mississippi is getting hit very hard this year, and we have seen hundreds of cases so far.”
Hill is a former president of the American Medical Association.
Lab-confirmed influenza cases in Mississippi are starting to pour into the Mississippi State Department of Health.
“Flu is popping up around the state,” said health department director of communications Liz Charlot, based on reports to the health department’s sentinel physician network, which tracks influenza trends.
Flu season typically begins to peak in December and tapers off in April. Flu season started earlier than usual this year in Mississippi, and the“peak season” has officially begun, Charlot said.
“People need to understand that (flu) season can sometimes peak in late February or early March, so it’s not too late to get the vaccine,” Hill said. “Flu is a very contagious airborne virus, so it’s best to stay away from crowds of people if you are diagnosed.”
Flu shots are still available, according to Hill, and it usually takes about two and a half to three weeks for the shot to make someone immune to the virus.
According to local pharmacists, shortages for both flu shots and prescription medicine to treat flurelated symptoms are common during the peak flu season.
“Since right before Christmas and in the last couple weeks, the need for flu medicine has increased significantly,” said Eddie Armstrong, pharmacist at Fred’s pharmacy. “We are completely out of a couple cough medicines and flu shots right now.”
Local pharmacists typically call physicians to approve alternative medicines that are in-stock when supplies are running low.