Mississippi flu cases rising with this community being one of the strongest hotbeds in the country

Published 10:21 pm Thursday, October 19, 2023

Walgreens launched the 2023-2024 Walgreens Flu Index today to help communities track flu activity in their area and serve as an important reminder to take preventive measures, including an annual flu shot. Walgreens has produced this online, interactive tool for 10 flu seasons to show trends in flu activity week-over-week.

The Walgreens Flu Index shows that, to date, overall flu activity is 66% lower compared to the start of the 2022-2023 flu season, with activity increasing 13% over the past week. During the week of Oct. 9, flu activity was the highest in Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Louisiana. Several areas in the southern U.S., including Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville- McAllen, Texas, Lafayette, Louisiana, and Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas, were designated the top markets with the most widespread flu activity so far.

“After several atypical flu seasons, this year’s Flu Index is showing a more gradual ramp-up of flu activity closer to the pre-COVID norm,” said Kevin Ban, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Walgreens. “While it’s early days and flu season is always unpredictable, our historical data suggest this could be a return to a typical two-wave flu season where activity starts to peak in December and reaches its highest point in February, rather than the single peak we saw last year, which was earlier but lower than the norm.”

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Despite the unusual patterns of flu activity last season, the virus still had a major impact on communities and the healthcare system, driving a similar level of illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths as in pre-pandemic years and contributing to the ‘tripledemic’ of flu, COVID-19 and RSV in the U.S. Getting a flu shot remains the best way to protect against the virus, and potentially serious outcomes of influenza. The annual flu shot has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by as much as 40% to 60%.1

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine by the end of October.2 However, if individuals cannot get vaccinated until later, the CDC recommends still getting the flu shot because significant flu activity can continue through May.3 It takes about two weeks after receiving the vaccine for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

“It’s just as important as ever to get your annual flu shot, and now is the time to do it,” said Dr. Ban. “With COVID-19 surging, pandemic precautions continuing to ease, and people gathering in person more frequently this fall and winter, keeping up with all CDC-recommended immunizations is the best way to keep you and your loved ones protected as we head into the holidays and peak flu season. As our pharmacy teams are working tirelessly to serve our communities, Walgreens makes it easy for the whole family to get annual flu shots, the updated COVID-19 vaccine and the RSV vaccine for those eligible, all in one visit.”

Flu and COVID-19 vaccines are available at no cost to patients with most insurance or government assistance. To schedule a vaccination appointment, visit Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine, use the Walgreens app or call 1-800-WALGREENS.

Walgreens also offers a variety of convenient, low-cost testing and treatment options to simplify the path to recovery for individuals experiencing respiratory symptoms, including a rapid 2 results in 1 test for COVID-19 and influenza A and B that are now available at most locations nationwide. To learn more, visit Walgreens.com/Testing, use the Walgreens app or call 1-800-WALGREENS.

Top 10 DMAs with Highest Flu Activity

  1. Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas
  2. Lafayette, La.
  3. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
  4. Puerto Rico
  5. New Orleans, La.
  6. Honolulu, Hawaii
  7. El Paso, Texas (Las Cruces, N.M.)
  8. Columbus-Tupelo-West Point-Houston, Miss.
  9. Corpus Christi, Texas
  10. Anchorage, Alaska

Top 10 States and Territories with Highest Flu Activity

  1. Puerto Rico
  2. Hawaii
  3. Louisiana
  4. Arkansas
  5. Texas
  6. Mississippi
  7. Florida
  8. Nevada
  9. Alabama
  10. Tennessee