OXFORD – As the world waits for a COVID-19 vaccine, a University of Mississippi health expert urges everyone to have themselves vaccinated for influenza.
Everyone 6 months and older needs a flu vaccine every season, said Lauren Durham, a nurse practitioner at University Health Services. Millions of flu vaccinations have been given over the past 50 years in the United States, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration working diligently together to ensure the highest safety standards.
Flu vaccines are recommended and approved for pregnant women and even those with certain chronic health conditions.
"The CDC recommends getting your flu shot by the end of October, but because flu viruses are constantly changing, it's never too late to be vaccinated," she said. "Flu vaccine protection declines over time, which is why yearly vaccinations are the best protection."
Minor side effects might include soreness at the injection site with redness or swelling, low-grade fever and aches. Usually any side effects are minor and self-resolve with no intervention. For those with an egg allergy, completely egg-free flu vaccinations are available.
"The flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with the flu and reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations," Durham said. "The flu vaccine can be lifesaving in young children, reduce the severity of illness in those who get sick and protect those around you.
"This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic as infection rates among certain groups continues to rise."
For additional resources, go to http://www.cdc.gov/flu.
For university faculty, staff and students, the flu vaccine is available at Pharmacy Health Services inside the V.B. Harrison Health Center during regular hours of operation: 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays. Employees also can get a flu shot at Employee Health by calling 662-915-6550.
Additionally, seasonal influenza vaccinations are available for children and qualifying adults at all Mississippi State Department of Health county health departments. To locate a county health department clinic in your area, or for more information on flu, visit the MSDH website.