Harsh flu season affecting Mississippi hospitals
Hospitals in Mississippi and nationwide are experiencing higher-than-usual activity due to a particularly harsh flu season. This has led to overcrowding in emergency rooms and a shortage of hospital beds. Mississippi is one of 22 states experiencing very high levels of flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Mississippi is seeing the highest rate of cases in young children and those under 25. The number of patients in the hospital for flu-like illness nationally has doubled in the past two weeks and is higher than in recent years – about 35 percent up from the same time last year. Most of the people who are hospitalized for the flu are over the age of 65.
“Mississippi hospitals, like those across the country, are experiencing a huge influx of patients due to the flu and are taking necessary steps to ensure patients receive appropriate care in the appropriate setting,” said Timothy H. Moore, President/CEO of Mississippi Hospital Association. “Hospitals across the state are continuously monitoring the situation and working together to make sure all of their patients are receiving the care they need and the hospitals have the supplies they need to get through this.”
To protect patients and visitors, some hospitals in the state have limited visitors and restricted access to public waiting areas. Patients with minor flu-like symptoms are encouraged to contact their primary care providers for guidance rather than immediately seeking care in hospital emergency departments. Anyone with a fever of 100 degrees or more, a cough and/or sore throat is considered to have flu-like symptoms.
February is when flu season is usually the worst, so it’s not too late to get a flu shot! Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive flu vaccination at county health department clinics for $10. Insurance, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is accepted for children’s flu shots. Even without insurance, a flu shot will generally cost less than $20 out of pocket.