Public encouraged to get early flu shot

The flu season may be early this year and doctors would like to see people be prepared.
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 10:14 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - It’s the beginning of flu season, and medical experts are encouraging Tennesseans to get their annual flu vaccine.

Ascension Saint Thomas has already seen patients present with influenza. The majority of the patients are being treated in the Emergency Department.

Dr. David Bauman, a Family Medicine and Geriatric physician pressed the importance of getting the vaccine to avoid getting sick or having severe symptoms, if you did get sick with the flu.

“The flu vaccines work to reduce severe illness. Do them for yourself to reduce severe illness and time away from work. Nobody likes the flu, so do it for yourself but do it for others, too,” said Dr. Bauman.

Bauman says he has seen a lot of patients suffering from the flu right now, but they’ve had a few cases here and there.

“Not a lot of flu though yet, even though there have been a few isolated cases which is not unusual for October. As you’re probably aware, the flu season can start in October; the peak incidents can be anywhere from December through March,” said Bauman.

Flu season is back. WSMV's Marissa Sulek tells you what you need to do to prepare.

Even though cases throughout the state are minimal now, doctors like Dr. Rachel Mehr, an Ascension Saint Thomas Family Medicine and Geriatrics physician, are concerned about the height of the season.

“We kind of have seen that if we can preview in the southern hemisphere in Australia, they’ve had more cases of flu. And they also saw more cases in an early time span, so they saw an earlier outbreak of flu, so for us to be seeing some cases now, that is, I expected it later, but it’s actually coming now we’re starting to see some emergence of cases so my concern is that we could see an earlier flu season with more case,” said Mehr.

Medical experts attribute significantly fewer flu cases during the pandemic due to wearing a mask, social distancing, and keeping up with personal hygiene, which are actions they encourage to avoid catching the flu.

Mehr reiterates that wearing a facial covering is a personal choice during flu season regarding patients and their risk factors and immune system health.

“Watch and keep track of the case numbers around you when you make choices and just use universal precautions,” said Mehr.

Doctors also suggest if you’re feeling sick, stay at home. In addition, they strongly encourage flu vaccines for people with chronic illnesses like heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.