Officials from the Mississippi State Department of Health reported the state’s first pediatric flu death of the 2023-2024 flu season on Wednesday. 

Pediatric deaths are deaths occurring in individuals under the age of 18. 

There have been a total of 25 pediatric flu deaths, including this one, in the state since pediatric flu deaths were first reported during the 2008-2009 flu season. Flu season in Mississippi usually peaks between January and March, and the vaccine can take up to two weeks to provide immunity. 

The Health Department did not provide any further details about the circumstances of the death.

“Vaccination is the best protection against flu and the severe outcomes from flu infection,” interim State Epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Taylor said in a press release. “All individuals 6 months of age and older are recommended to get an updated flu and COVID-19 vaccine this season.” 

For those 18 and under, flu shots are covered by insurance, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Some children may be eligible for free vaccination under the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) at qualifying locations

Uninsured and underinsured adults who meet certain high-risk criteria qualify for an adult influenza vaccination at county health department clinics. The vaccine is available for insured adults through pharmacies, retailers and private physicians throughout the state. 

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Sophia, a New York native, covers community health with a focus on women’s and family health care. In 2023, she graduated with a master’s in journalism from Northeastern University, where she served as editor-in-chief of the Boston Scope. Her multimedia work has been recognized by the National Press Photographers Association and the New England chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She has also worked for the global nonprofit, Girl Rising, and the documentary group, The Disability Justice Project.