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Flu season has arrived: It’s important to be immunized

Posted on Friday, December 27, 2013 at 9:00 am

It’s here: the seasonal wave of flu that affects thousands of Americans every year. Flu activity is measurably rising in Tennessee, and while doctors here are not yet seeing the higher number of cases reported in some neighboring states, the Tennessee Department of Health believes more cases will be identified here soon.

“We’re just at the start of flu season and those who have not received a flu shot or flu nasal spray should do so immediately,” said State Epidemiologist Tim Jones, MD. “It is not too late to be vaccinated. We especially urge vaccinations for people who are or will come in contact with those at highest risk of complications, particularly pregnant women, older adults, people with chronic health problems and young children.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccinations for everyone more than six months old. Infants can’t be helped by vaccine and rely on people around them to be protected. Just avoiding contact if you are sick isn’t enough, because people can give the flu to others about a day before they even feel ill.

Preliminary studies of early flu cases indicate the flu vaccine available this year is a good match to prevent it. According to the CDC, vaccinations in last year’s flu season prevented about 80,000 hospitalizations nationwide and approximately 1,600 in Tennessee.

“Unfortunately, influenza can be deadly, sometimes even for otherwise healthy people, and as times of festive togetherness approach, being protected yourself can save others from a terrible illness or worse,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “When we get a flu shot, we protect others along with ourselves. That protection is a great gift to give this time of year.”

Flu vaccines are readily available across Tennessee from a number of sources and take only a few minutes to receive.

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