Northeast Tennessee health departments offer free flu vaccinations

Northeast Tennessee health departments offer free flu vaccinations

Health officials say the flu went from sporadic to widespread in just one week and it continues to spread.

"The 48 percent overall is not as good as we would like to see for flu vaccine, but the protection we see is significant", heading off severe illness that requires medical care, said Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's influenza division. That number was 5 percent in San Diego County.

Weekly reported flu cases in San Diego County have reached a new high for the season. 5, and the number grew to 91 cases from February 6-12. "It's actually pretty good", said Peter Wenger, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at St. Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick. During the same time span past year, the county reported only 12 flu deaths.

"This week, we started out Sunday with 38 cases in our emergency departments, so we're anticipating that flu activity will be even higher than last week". The number of people affected every year can vary widely, but generally, the CDC reports that "millions of people are sickened, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu every year".

"Most of the students (who) reported contracting the flu have been those who have not received the shot so it is encouraged", Goldberg said. It is important that those who have underlying health conditions or may be caregivers of high-risk individuals check with their physicians or healthcare providers about antiviral medications that might help them recover more quickly from the flu, ADPH stressed.

She recommends frequent hand washing, trying to avoid people who are sick and covering coughs to keep from spreading germs.

Health leaders say be on the lookout for flu symptoms; fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle or body aches. The vaccine was found to be 53 percent effective in preventing flu-related medical visits for the young children and 58 percent effective for the older adults.

"As long as the flu virus is circulating in a community, it's not too late to get vaccinated", Secretary of Health Karen Murphy said in a statement.

Maintaining a healthy diet, getting at least six hours of sleep and exercising at least 30 minutes a day can improve your immune system's ability to protect yourself against the virus, said Goldberg.

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