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Historic Flu Season Growing In Mississippi, But Prevention Possible

The Centers for Disease Control is warning of the worst flu season in over a decade, with more than 78,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths across the nation this year alone. Mississippi’s health system, already struggling with the damage from years of COVID-19, is feeling the consequences of the surge as well.

Dr. Jennifer Bryan, a physician and member of the Mississippi State Medical Association’s Board of Trustees, told the Mississippi Free Press in an interview that a confluence of illnesses is filling out Mississippi’s limited hospital availability. “We’re seeing a triple whammy right now,” she said. “We’re seeing RSV, flu and COVID. The hospitals are largely full.”

The silver lining, she added, is that there are both preventative and therapeutic options to reduce the virus’ severity and stay out of the hospital. “That’s one of the many reasons why we vaccinate—to keep things under control in our hospitals and clinics,” she said.

‘An Ebb and Flow’

The situation is not as dire as it was at the earlier peaks of COVID, when the virus filled the state’s emergency rooms and intensive-care units. “There’s an ebb and flow,” Bryan continued. “Then, when somebody was in a bed, they stayed for (much longer).”

Dr. Jennifer Bryan, a physician and member of the Mississippi State Medical Association’s Board of Trustees, is warning that flu, RSV and COVID have the state’s hospitals struggling. Photo by Jennifer Bryan

But Mississippi State Department of Health surveillance shows that Mississippi is in the middle of a serious spike of influenza-like illness, along with much of the rest of the country. MSDH’s surveillance data are showing a rate of influenza-like illness nearly three times higher than last year.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that fewer than half of all Americans intend to get the flu shot this year, forgoing the best preventative measure against the virus. Additionally, populations that show lower proportions of flu vaccination report higher rates of flu and serious outcomes.

Yet the current flu shot is proving to be remarkably effective against this year’s strain of influenza. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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