To say the least, 2009 was an unusual year for flu season in the U.S. with it peaking in the late spring and into the summer. This year things are different.
Dr. Rebecca "Tree" James, who is the health officer for the East Central Mississippi District, says this is likely due to the strain which many initially called the 'swine flu,' now included in the regular flu vaccine which is available in our area.
"In fact the flu that we are seeing in Mississippi now, we're seeing some of the same old strains that were around before. We're not seeing now a resurgence of the Noval H1N1, so we're very proud," says Dr. James.
However, this raises the question about why the H1N1 flu virus surfaced with such a vengeance last year. Dr. James says the answer is easy.
"When a new strain of flu like the Noval H1N1 comes in that people do not have immunity to, then it's going to spread wherever it shows up," said James.
With the peak season for the flu still about a month or two away, Dr. James is urging everyone to get the flu shot.
"You cannot get the flu from the flu shot," James said. "The shot is a killed vaccine."
As for shots, there is a $10 charge at Mississippi Health Department offices for children. However, even that can be waived for people who cannot afford it.
Meanwhile, at the health department, adults may get the shots for a cheaper rate this year. The price is $20.