Tennessee is experiencing 'very high' levels of flu. Doctors urge caution during the holidays.

Thanksgiving dinner
Posted at 7:52 PM, Nov 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-26 16:30:35-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It’s that time of year when families gather around the table for the holidays.

This year’s festivities are happening at a time when the state is experiencing “very high” levels of influenza, according to the CDC.

There are also major concerns for COVID-19 and RSV. Doctors are encouraging people to be cautious as families come together.

"You still have to be cautious. I don’t wear a mask anymore, but you can’t lock yourself at home. You have to live and take a little more precautions," Nashville visitor Don Hartman said.

"A lot of times people let their guards down and the next thing you know everyone has to make their own decisions," Nashville visitor Bernadette “Peaches” Taylor said.

Experts say making the right decisions will keep you and your family safe as you gather around the table for the holidays.

"Washing your hands frequently, cover your cough/sneeze. These are all things that will decrease the transmission of influenza, Covid, and RSV during these family gatherings," Vanderbilt University Medical Center Dr. Todd Rice said.

Rice said for the first time in a while, people feel safe because Covid cases are down, but Tennessee's a hot spot for a lot of influenza.

"We know from the past and this year, the flu can cause people to really sick too," Dr. Rice said.

Rice is hopeful people will use the knowledge they learned during "the thick of the pandemic" to avoid getting each other sick.

"We're anxious that we’re starting to see influenza and influenza in the hospital but also a little more comfortable. We've been there and done this. We kind of know what to expect," Dr. Rice said.

He said if you feel sick skip this Thanksgiving meal to prevent your family from getting sick.

Dr. Rice only suggests taking an at-home COVID test if you’re feeling ill or have been exposed because they’re not seeing many cases.

He advises — if you haven't got your flu vaccine — go ahead and do it. He said it will offer you some protection from catching the virus.

As for masking, Dr. Rice said it's a personal choice. He said if you’re immune compromised or have other health conditions, it’s a good idea to wear one.

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