‘Flu Shot Friday’ gives public opportunity for free shots

Published 4:16 pm Thursday, February 15, 2018

With February often regarded as peak influenza season, the Tennessee Department of Health has one simple message for the public.

“Get a flu shot!”

Geared toward individuals who have not yet received a shot, the Department recently announced “Flu Shot Friday” will be underway today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at local health departments across the state, including Carter County, to help ensure residents have a tool to fight back against the disease.

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“We are having these clinics to emphasize it’s not too late to get vaccinated because we expect a lot more weeks of seasonal flu that we all know has already been intense. Vaccination is still the best protection we have against this serious and deadly illness,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, in a release issued to the Elizabethton Star. “Yes, wash your hands, avoid touching your face, stay home if you are sick but above all get vaccinated. It can help you and those around you stay healthy and if you do get sick, it just might save your life.”

Fay Willis, nursing supervisor at the county health department, added that individuals needing a shot do not need an appointment and they can simply stop by during the timeframe to receive their shot.

While there isn’t a 100-percent effective mark, Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Office Medical Director Dr. David Kirschke stated that the shot is the best tool available for the disease.

“We’re seeing a lot more of the H3N2 strain of the illness, which is causing more illness,” he said Thursday. “The current flu shot batch is good, but it’s not always as effective as we like. We encourage the public to receive their shot, especially with the few months ahead we have of the flu season. It’s the best tool we have available to counteract the disease.”

The TDH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months or holder. According to the health office, the vaccines work better against the H1N1 and influenza B viruses, which are also circulating in the state.

There are other ways of making sure the disease doesn’t spread, Kirschke said.

Along with receiving the shot, the director added that individuals experiencing symptoms need to steer clear from going to school or work.  Other tips include using proper “cough etiquette” and routinely washing hands when coming into contact with other individuals.