Doctors concerned about number of young people affected by flu - WSMV Channel 4

Doctors concerned about number of young people affected by flu

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

There are concerns about how quickly the flu is spreading this season, as 37 states are now reporting widespread flu activity.

Twelve people have died from the flu in Middle Tennessee this flu season, with the latest victim being an 11-year-old Hendersonville girl.

"This is a strain that likes to attack children and particularly young adults admitted to the hospital with very serious influenza, so this is going to be on the more severe side," said Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University.

In the early part of the season, H1N1 was the most prevalent strain in Tennessee, but Influenza A has also emerged.

"We're not really sure why we're seeing as many cases of H1N1 this year as we are, but in Tennessee we've just recently learned that H3N2 is becoming the dominant strain," said Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner.

While doctors say this flu season is not necessarily worse than past seasons, what's different is that young, healthy people are falling victim.

"That's why it's very important for young and healthy people who don't feel they're at risk for the flu to get the vaccine, because they prevent flu from occurring in more vulnerable people around them," Dreyzehner said.

Right now, there is not a shortage of flu vaccine in Tennessee, but the supply is limited.

With flu season usually reaching its peak in late January and February, some states are already reporting shortages.

"There have been little hints here and there that, 'Oh, I'm having difficulty finding the influenza vaccine,' and, of course, that's the usual story in January. People may have to go to more than one place to get an influenza vaccine," Schaffner said.

So far, 385 people have been sent to the hospital with confirmed cases of the flu in Nashville and its seven surrounding counties. That number is growing nearly every hour.

"It's not simply about protecting ourselves. It's about protecting the people around us," Dreyzehner said.

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