State health officials warn flu season is far from over - WSMV Channel 4

State health officials warn flu season is far from over

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The flu is causing worry nationwide tonight. It came early and strong and it's already claimed lives in several states.

Tennessee remains in the red for a high number of cases. And while the Centers for Disease Control announced Friday we may have seen the worst of it, you may still be at risk.

"We've seen high levels of activity for the last two or three weeks," said Dr. Kelly Moore, medical director of the Tennessee Immunization Program.

Like much of the country, flu season hit Tennessee early and hard with nearly 8,000 cases reported statewide in the first week of 2013. Six hundred and six of those were in Davidson County. And while cases have dropped off over the past week in Nashville, Moore warned now is not the time to let your guard down.

"The flu is going to continue for several weeks to come even if we're at our peak right now. It will still be out there and you will still be vulnerable," Moore explained.

In fact, officials said flu season could stick around through February and possibly into March. That's why Moore strongly urges those who haven't gotten the flu shot to get vaccinated. She especially encourages those considered high risk to get vaccinated, including the elderly, young children and people with chronic illnesses like heart or lung conditions, diabetes, obesity as well as liver and kidney disease.

"Influenza is a good vaccine but it's not a perfect vaccine," Moore said.

But Dr. William Schaffner, an expert on infectious diseases, warned it's not a cure all. He said people who get this particular vaccine can still get the flu.

"It's about 62 percent effective ... which means that it completely prevents influenza in many people but in others what it does is reduce the severity of influenza. It reduces the chance of complications ... pneumonia, hospitalization and death. If you haven't had the vaccine, run, do not walk and get it."

Now if you do get the shot, keep in mind it takes about two weeks for you to get the most protection.

If you get the flu, there are things you can take like Tamiflu to ease your symptoms. But doctors say the best medicine is to stay home, get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids.

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