Get a flu vaccine! The Tennessee Department of Health is urging all Tennesseans who have not yet received a flu vaccine this flu season to get one as soon as possible. For the third consecutive year, Tennessee county health departments are holding special "Fight Flu TN" flu vaccine events in every county November 19 to increase the number of people vaccinated across Tennessee.
"We want to make every effort to prevent the 'twindemic' of both COVID-19 and influenza in Tennessee, in order for our residents to stay healthy and for our hospitals not to become overwhelmed," said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. "Vaccination is still the best protection we have against this serious and potentially deadly illness, and I strongly encourage everyone to get a flu shot this year, even if you normally don't get one."
All Tennessee county health departments are holding Fight Flu TN clinics Nov. 19. No appointments are needed to receive a flu vaccine during these events. Event hours and details will vary from county to county. Find a map of Fight Flu TN locations and contact information online at www.tn.gov/health/fightflu.
TDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a yearly flu vaccine for everyone ages six months and older. It's especially important for pregnant women to get flu shots to protect themselves and their unborn children, as flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women.
"Fewer than half of all Tennesseans receive a flu vaccine each year," said Tennessee Vaccine-Preventable Diseases and Immunization Program Director Michelle Fiscus, MD, FAAP. "The flu vaccine reduces the chance of hospitalization or death from flu by 40 to 60 percent. If everyone who can get a flu vaccine would get one, we could significantly reduce flu-related sickness, hospitalizations and deaths."
Most people with the flu will experience symptoms such as fever, cough, congestion and body aches, and will recover on their own after about a week. However, infants, the elderly and people with certain medical conditions are at highest risk of severe complications from the flu. If you suspect you or someone in your family has the flu, call your health care provider for advice.
The flu virus is highly contagious, so it's important for people who are sick to stay home and avoid contact with others until 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.
The same behaviors that help reduce the spread of COVID-19 also help stop the flu. Follow these additional tips to protect your family and others from these viruses:
- Keep six feet between yourself and the next person whenever possible
- Wear a cloth face covering when you're in public or with someone who is at high risk of complications from flu or COVID-19
- 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
Learn more about preventing seasonal flu at www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/index.html.