While it still feels like Summer outside, flu cases have already been confirmed in Tennessee.
Dr. William Schaffner, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said it is still tough to predict what kind of flu season it will be. Regardless, he said his recommendations stay the same. He advises anyone six months of age and older to get a flu shot, and to do it before the end of October.
“A vaccine deferred is a vaccine often not received,” said Dr. Schaffner. “Even if you get the flu after the vaccine, you will get a milder case.”
Dr. Schaffner said the vaccine is the best defense against the flu. While it isn’t perfect, it still protects against several strains of the virus, and makes an individual less likely to spread the flu to others.
The CDC reports 2017-18 flu season was one of the worst in about 25 years. Over 900,000 people were hospitalized across the country and 80,000 died. Ten children died in Tennessee.
Dr. Schaffner said last year was a reminder that flu season needs to be taken seriously. Hand washing, staying away from people who are sick, and staying home when you aren’t feeling well can also help prevent the spread of germs.
Flu season normally starts in November and peaks in February.
The flu vaccine is available at any of the three Metro Public Health Department health centers.
Flu shots are offered Monday - Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at the Health Department's East Health Center, 1015 East Trinity Lane; Woodbine Health Center, 224 Oriel Avenue; and the new Lentz Health Center, 2500 Charlotte Avenue.
The fee for flu vaccine is $25.00 for adults with private insurance, and a sliding scale is available if needed. TennCare and Medicare Part B insurance are accepted and fully cover the $25.00 fee.