The Tennessee Department of Health is encouraging all Tennesseans who have not had their annual flu vaccine to get immunized as soon as possible to protect themselves and prevent the spread of flu to others.
“The elderly, people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and young children are all at risk of severe complications if they get the flu,’’ said TDH Commissioner Morgan McDonald, MD FACP FAAP. “We expect more Tennesseans in their doctors’ offices as influenza activity continues to be high nationally and in our state. I encourage those who have put off getting a vaccine to not wait any longer.’’
This flu season, the Centers for Disease Control estimates there have been 22 million illnesses, 230,000 hospitalizations, and 14,000 deaths in the U.S. from influenza, as of Jan. 6, 2023.
Tennessee is now listed in the CDC’s “high” activity level, dropping from the “very high” category that classified the state during October, November and most of December 2022.
TDH recommends the following actions for Tennesseans to stay safe and healthy this flu season:
Get a Flu Vaccine – The flu vaccine is free and safe, and more than likely a flu vaccine location is close to you. Find out at www.tn.gov/health/fightflu, select the Find a Flu Shot Near You icon. Everyone six months and older can get a flu vaccine. It is very important for health care workers and those who live or care for people at high risk from flu complications to get vaccinated. Health departments across the state offer free influenza vaccines.
Take Steps to Prevent the Spread – Avoid close contact with those who are sick. If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible. Wash your hands often with soap and water, and cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Take Flu Antivirals, If Prescribed – If you are sick with the flu, your doctor may prescribe flu antiviral drugs as treatment. Flu antivirals can make flu illness milder and shorten the time someone is sick. Flu antivirals are not available over-the-counter and should be taken only at the instruction of, and as prescribed by, a physician or health care provider.
Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe and include muscle aches, fever, fatigue, sore throat, cough, headaches, and stuffy or runny noses.