Health Officer Dobbs: Flu Shot Imperative, Nursing Home Restrictions Now Loosened | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Health Officer Dobbs: Flu Shot Imperative, Nursing Home Restrictions Now Loosened

With the flu season coming up, Gov. Tate Reeves and State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs urged Mississippians to get vaccinated, saying people can have the flu and COVID-19, thus suffering more. Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

With the flu season coming up, Gov. Tate Reeves and State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs urged Mississippians to get vaccinated, saying people can have the flu and COVID-19, thus suffering more. Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs and Gov. Tate Reeves both urged Mississippians to get the flu vaccine for the upcoming season. “In 2019, we had a lot of people with common flu who stayed in the hospital for a long period of time and some of whom, sadly and unfortunately passed away,” the governor said.

“The reason that we're talking a lot about the flu vaccine this year is because we don't want to have a health-care system that has added stress for more people with the flu going to the hospital,” Reeves said. “I plan to get the flu vaccine this year. In fact, I believe it's scheduled for sometime later this week. “I hope you will consider getting the flu vaccine this year as well.”

“It's so very important,” Dobbs said. “It's going to be doubly challenging with the coronavirus pandemic, because we do know people can get viruses simultaneously. So you can have both of them at the same time, and there’s evidence from China that if you have both of them at the same time, your illness may in fact be worse.”

Influenza and COVID-19 share many of the same symptoms, which can make differentiating between them more difficult. Above 65, Mississippians do “pretty well” in vaccinations Dobbs said, but for those below the age of 65, flu vaccination generally falls below 50%. “I'm hopeful that our people will do better than that,” the governor said.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued a new guidance with loosened restrictions on visitors to Long Term Care facilities. Visitors may now see their loved ones outdoors “pretty much any time,” Dobbs said. “That’s going to be wonderful for the mental health of not only the residents but the families who care for them.”

The Mississippi Department of Health issued a new weekly report for school COVID-19 data. For the week of Sept. 14 through Sept. 18, data from 812 reporting schools shows 138 new infections among teachers and staff and 244 new infections among students, constituting 14 new outbreaks. These infections have resulted in 4,819 new quarantines—425 staff and 4394 students.

Dobbs praised schools for their work providing safe teaching environments. “Our schools continue to operate very proficiently in their mechanisms to educate our kids, but also to prevent transmission of coronavirus,” he said.

While praising schools for their diligence, Dobbs was less optimistic about related social events. “It's social stuff that’s killing us. As far as when we’re having outbreaks it's parties, and it's even small gatherings of people getting together,” Dobbs said. “It seems mostly in athletics or extracurriculars where we know there's going to be more chaotic movement and less control.”

Since the start of the school year, records show 73 individual outbreaks consisting of 1,589 student infections and 856 teacher and staff infections, resulting in a cumulative total of 26,246 quarantined students and faculty—note that this total does not reflect students and staff that have recovered and returned from quarantine.

Data from MSDH showed a slight increase in cases and deaths for the second half of the week. Friday’s report showed 722 cases with 22 deaths, while Thursday’s showed 737 cases and four deaths with Wednesday’s report at 552 cases and 24 deaths.

Read the JFP’s coverage of COVID-19 at jacksonfreepress.com/covid19. Get more details on preventive measures here. Email state intern Julian Mills at [email protected].

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