Flu cases on the rise, Carter Co. Health Dept. offering free flu shots

Published 5:13 pm Thursday, January 4, 2018

Cases of the flu virus continue to spread across the region and both the Centers for Disease Control and the Carter County Health Department are encouraging those who have not done so to get a flu shot.

According to information from the CDC, Tennessee is one of 21 states reporting what they classify as “high” flu activity. The states joining Tennessee in that designation are Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.

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While the CDC is reporting high flu activity in Tennessee, the agency says outbreaks of the virus are still regionalized within the state and have not met the criteria for the virus to be rated as “widespread.” Seven of Tennessee’s neighboring eight states — Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia — are all listed as having “widespread” flu activity according to the CDC. North Carolina is also classified as having regionalized virus outbreaks.

The Tennessee Department of Health is reporting flu virus activity in several of the state’s regional public health office divisions. According to data from the Tennessee Department of Health, the East Tennessee Region has seen the greatest level of patients being treated for flu-like illnesses with 2,172 cases reported in the most recent update available. The Knoxville and Knox County Region is reporting the second highest rate in the state with 1,049 patients.

The CDC states the flu vaccine is the best way for individuals to protect themselves from contracting the illness. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older who has not had their annual flu shot to get one “as soon as possible” to avoid catching the virus.

Currently, the Carter County Health Department is offering free flu vaccines to residents on a first come, first served basis as long as their supply lasts. Those wishing to get a flu shot through the health department must make an appointment through the clinic.

“Anyone, even healthy people, can get the flu and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age. Vaccination is the best protection against the flu, and the Carter County Health Department recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year,” said Caroline Hurt, Director of the Carter County Health Department. “It takes about two weeks to be protected after you get the flu vaccine, so we want everyone who hasn’t had their flu shot to get one right away to help keep our community healthy.”

The flu vaccine is especially important for people at high risk for serious illness or death from influenza such as the elderly, pregnant women and young children, as well as healthcare workers, and family and friends of anyone at high risk. Expectant mothers should be vaccinated during pregnancy to protect themselves and pass protection on to their unborn babies.

Flu shots will be provided at no charge to patients. Both adults and children may receive flu vaccine at the clinic. Please call the Carter County Health Department at (423) 543-2521 to book your appointment. The clinic is located at 403 East G Street in Elizabethton and open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.