Health Department Prepares for Swine Flu Vaccine | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Health Department Prepares for Swine Flu Vaccine

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Basic hygiene, including soap-and-water hand washing, is still one of the best ways to prevent the spread of flu.

Every year, about 36,000 Americans die of flu-related complications, according the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. This year, swine flu joins the more common, older flu strains that become more prevalent during the school year, when spreading illness becomes a bigger issue. The CDC has announced development of a swine flu vaccine, and the Mississippi Department of Health is getting ready to provide flu shots beginning sometime in October, reports the Sun Herald.

To date, the MDH has identified 413 cases of swine flu, with one death, a Jackson County child with numerous underlying health issues. Most people who contract the disease get mild to moderate flu symptoms, including fever, aches and pains, coughing, sore throat and nausea. These same symptoms can occur with West Nile virus and other forms of mosquito-borne illnesses. If you experience flu symptoms, you should see a doctor, especially during the mosquito season.

The MDH will work with the state Department of Education and school nurses to vaccinate school children, according to the story. Individuals who are at high risk should also receive a shot:

The CDC has identified groups they say should be the highest priority because they are at the highest risk. The list includes pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than six months old, health care and emergency medical workers, persons who are between 6 months and 24 years old and people between ages 25 and 64 with chronic health problems or weakened immune systems. The CDC estimates about 159 million people in the U.S. fit into those categories.

Generally, good basic hygiene will prevent the spread of flu.

"Diligent flu etiquette will help incredibly," MDH Director of Communications Liz Sharlot told the Sun Herald. "We don't have a vaccine, so it is ever so important that people remember to thoroughly wash their hands, to cough or sneeze into their sleeve or into a Kleenex and throw it out. Stay home if you are sick. If you have a fever or symptoms of the flu, call your doctor."

For more information on swine flu and West Nile virus, go to the MDH Web site.

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