ROBERTSON COUNTY, MIDDLE TENNESSEE: (Smokey Barn News) – Get a flu shot! The Tennessee Department of Health is urging all Tennesseans who have not yet received a flu shot this flu season to get one as soon as possible, as seasonal influenza remains widespread across the state. Tennessee county health departments are providing flu vaccine at no charge to patients while supplies last and are holding special “Flu Shot Friday” clinics from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. local time Feb. 16 in all locations to increase the number of people vaccinated across Tennessee.
“We are having these clinics to emphasize it’s not too late to get vaccinated because we expect a lot more weeks of seasonal flu that we all know has already been intense. Vaccination is still the best protection we have against this serious and deadly illness,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Yes, wash your hands, avoid touching your face, stay home if you are sick but above all get vaccinated. It can help you and those around you stay healthy and if you do get sick, it just might save your life.”
All Tennessee county health departments are holding Flu Shot Friday clinics Feb. 16 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. This includes all rural county health departments and health department clinics in Chattanooga-Hamilton County, Jackson-Madison County, Knoxville-Knox County, Nashville-Davidson County, Memphis-Shelby County and Sullivan County. No appointments are needed to receive a flu shot during this event. Find a map of local health department locations and contact information online at www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/localdepartments.html.
TDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a yearly flu vaccine for everyone aged six months and older. Unfortunately, flu vaccines don’t work as well against H3N2 viruses, which means some people who get vaccinated may still get sick; however, flu vaccination helps make illness milder for those who do get sick. Flu vaccines also work better against H1N1 and influenza B viruses, which are also circulating in Tennessee right now.
Most people with the flu will have a mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. However, groups including infants, the elderly and people with certain medical conditions are at highest risk of getting severe complications from the flu. Anyone who believes he or she may have the flu should contact a health care provider and should begin antiviral medications if recommended by the provider as soon as possible.
Flu virus is highly contagious, so it’s important for people who are sick to stay home and make every effort to avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after their symptoms have resolved to help prevent further spread of the illness. This includes staying away from work, school and other public places while ill.
Follow these additional tips to protect your family and others from the flu:
• Use “respiratory etiquette” by coughing into your elbow or a tissue instead of your hands • Wash hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub • Routine cleaning and disinfection in the home and workplace are important to reduce flu risks
SEASONAL FLU FAQ
1. What are the symptoms of flu? Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, and can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: •Fever or feeling feverish/chills •Cough •Sore throat •Runny or stuffy nose •Muscle or body aches •Headaches •Tiredness, fatigue, lack of energy •Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
2. What do I do if I get sick? Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get flu symptoms, in most cases you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care. Contact a health care provider to ask if you need to come in for a visit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends antiviral drugs be used early to treat people who are very sick with the flu (for example, people who are in the hospital) and people who are sick with the flu and are at high risk of serious flu complications because of their age or because they have a high-risk medical condition.
3. Is it too late to get a flu shot? No! As long as flu viruses are still circulating, it is not too late to get a flu shot. Flu vaccination is the best way to prevent flu illness and serious flu complications, including those that can result in hospitalization. Unfortunately, flu vaccines don’t work as well against H3N2 viruses, which means some people who get vaccinated will still get sick; however, flu vaccination helps make illness milder for those who do get sick. Flu vaccines also work better against H1N1 and influenza B viruses, which are also circulating in Tennessee right now.
4. Why should I get a flu shot? In addition to protecting yourself, getting vaccinated also protects people around you including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness like babies and young children, older people, pregnant women and people with certain chronic health conditions.
5. Does the flu shot work? Vaccine effectiveness data for this season are not available yet, but we know flu vaccines do not work as well against H3N2 viruses, which are predominant so far this season. Flu vaccines usually work better against H1N1 viruses, which are also circulating.
6. What else can I do to protect myself from flu? Try to avoid close contact with sick people. If you do get sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing drugs (unless you need medical care or other necessities). Other tips for stopping the spread of germs: • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. • Wash your hands often with soap and water. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way! • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.