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Carter County Health Department prepares to launch flu vaccine program

With the holiday spirit in full swing, illnesses are preparing to enjoy the parties, too. Health officials are hoping to curb the risk of disease before it can even begin.

Tennessee’s Department of Health has dedicated the entirety of next week towards making this year’s flu vaccine as accessible as possible, launching a campaign called FightFluTN and advertising free flu shots during the entire week of December 3 to December 7.

Director of the Carter County Health Department Caroline Chinouth Hurt said Wednesday in particular, Dec. 5, is when the department will specifically dedicate itself to having staff available to administer the flu shot.

“We want to protect as many people as possible,” Chinouth Hurt said.

She said receiving the vaccine does more than just protect the person from this year’s flu strain, but it also protects people around them.

“It protects those who cannot be vaccinated, either due to chronic illness or their age,” she said.

Fay Willis, a nursing supervisor, said the population of people who cannot have the vaccine are people whom the vaccine would actually put in danger rather than helping.

“These are people with diabetes and anyone with respiratory issues, like asthma,” Willis said.

She said each year, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) works to anticipate which strain of the influenza virus will be most prevalent during the upcoming season and works to develop the correct vaccination accordingly.

“The vaccine has a long history with the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” Chinouth Hurt said. “It is safety tested and safety sure.”

Chinouth Hurt said the vaccine this year is widely available from pretty much anywhere, including pharmacies and health centers like theirs. She said the health department is committed to administering the vaccine free of charge during the week of December 5.

“Next week is the perfect time to get it,” she said. “This is right before everyone starts traveling to visit family, to shop for presents. Getting the flu shot protects those who cannot get it. Let’s think about the people who cannot get the vaccine.”

While the vaccine is available at no charge for the entire week, the department is setting Wednesday, Dec. 5, to really promote the service, with signs and dedicated staff members to give out the vaccine.

Willis encouraged anyone who can make it to stop by and get the vaccine, saying it will be a quick process that will help in the long-term.

“Take care of yourself,” she said. “Be proactive about your health. Vaccinating protects your loved ones and those around you.”