NASVHILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- State health officials say Tennessee could be headed into a difficult flu season.
The State Department of Health says it's already getting reports of flu cases across the Southeast, unusual for the month of September. Another troubling indicator: It’s been a bad flu season in the Southern Hemisphere where winter is just drawing to a close.
Typical influenza symptoms include the sudden onset of a high fever, body aches, cough and congestion. Tennessee State Vaccine Program Director Dr. Michelle Fiscus says get to your doctor if symptoms turn severe.
“If you are unable to tolerate fluids to keep well hydrated, or you’re having difficulty breathing, or you’ve had ongoing fever for more than 72 hours, then you should definitely be at least in contact with your health care provider’s office.”
Small children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable. Children under nine who have never had the flu vaccine will need two doses.
Influenza can be deadly. The Centers for Disease Control reports that, nationwide, more than 79,000 Americans died from flu complications in the 2017-2018 season. CDC says more than 48 million flu cases were reported that year and resulted in nearly one-million hospitalizations.
This year’s flu vaccine is available now. If your insurance doesn’t cover vaccinations, remember that flu shots are available through State Health Clinics at reduced cost based on income.