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Flu Vaccine: Why Wait?

The Tennessee Department of Health and CDC recommend people over the age of six months receive a flu vaccine. Credit: Xpistwv/Morguefile.
The Tennessee Department of Health and CDC recommend people over the age of six months receive a flu vaccine. Credit: Xpistwv/Morguefile.
November 3, 2015

UNION CITY, Tenn. – Flu season is knocking on Tennessee's door, and with the illness impacting and even killing people each year in the Volunteer State, doctors are reminding residents about the importance of getting the vaccine early.

According to the CDC, the incidences of influenza so far this year have been low, but that will change as the season continues and more and more people are around each other at holiday gatherings.

Dr. John Hale, a family practitioner in Union City and president of the Tennessee Medical Association, says the illness also has an economic impact.

"They get the flu and they're out for four or five days having used up their sick time," he says. "It can have an effect on people from that standpoint as well."

Residents can get a flu vaccine from a general practitioner, at health clinics or even at some pharmacies. Although the CDC and other major medical groups recommend those over the age of six months get a flu vaccine, some opt against it because of concerns the flu shot may not be effective, or because of additives in vaccines like a mercury-based preservative.

The flu vaccine administered by nasal spray is preservative-free.

Developers also say they've adjusted the vaccine so it is more effective against flu strains expected to impact the population this year. According to Hale, even after a patient receives the vaccine, it's important for them to continue practicing good health habits to protect themselves and others.

"Just common sense approaches, certainly practicing good hand hygiene, washing hands, using hand sanitizer, trying to avoid touching a lot of things," he says. "Those are all good ways to prevent you from getting the flu, especially for people who can't get the flu shot."

Young children, pregnant women and older Tennesseans are at increased risk from the flu. Last year, nine Tennessee children died from flu-related complications.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN