Health experts give advice on how to avoid the flu
HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — According to the Tennessee Department of Health, so far there have been four deaths in the 2017-2018 flu season. The latest case involved a pregnant woman.
Health department experts and doctors are urging people to get the flu vaccine, if they haven’t already.
Doctors at Galen North Pediatrics are busy. They’ve seen an increase in patients with the flu.
“Flu is rising quickly in Chattanooga and has for the past several weeks,” said Dr. Ben Wiley, with Galen North Pediatrics.
They don’t expect it to stop anytime soon.
“We see it heaviest in February, March, and April. So I just expect the numbers to continue to climb,” Dr. Wiley said.
Experts at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department say there are ways to protect yourself.
“Now certainly is the time, if they haven’t had it before, that they need to make sure that someone needs to give them that flu vaccine,” said Sharon Goforth, the special projects supervisor at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department.
Goforth says if someone thinks they may be getting the flu, there are certain steps to take.
“If they start to see some of the symptoms that we normally see with flu, quick on set, fever, body ache, headaches, and they are pretty sure they have been exposed and they are pretty sure what they are looking at is flu, call their physician, let them know that they want to come in and be potentially seen. Because the earlier that you can start some of those treatments against flu, some of the antivirals, the better off that you are, the quicker that you can start those,” Goforth said.
The Southeast Region of the Tennessee Department of Health is offering free flu vaccines in all of their health departments, which includes Bledsoe, Bradley, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, and McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea, and Sequatchie Counties.
“It is a great opportunity. We want our communities to stay healthy and not get the flu and it is an opportunity for them to learn about all of the other services they can get at their local health department,” said Amanda Goodhard, with the Southeast Region of the Tennessee Department of Health.
The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department is not one of the counties offering the free flu vaccines right now. Tammy Burke, Director of Clinical Services, issued the following statement.
“The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department is committed to ensuring that all persons in Hamilton County have ready access to flu vaccine from October through March. We have available this year, and generally have every year, free flu vaccines for uninsured adults and underinsured or uninsured children. In addition, we will work with anyone regardless of insurance status in the event they are unable to pay our charge for flu vaccine.”
In addition to vaccines, doctors say there are other ways to make sure you stay healthy.
“One of the best ways to keep the flu from spreading continues to be maintaining your good health and washing your hands, and very importantly resting and giving your body time to heal when you do get sick,” Dr. Wiley said.