Early flu cases reported across Middle Tennessee

Early flu cases reported across Middle Tennessee

Posted: Updated: Sep 23, 2013 06:02 PM

Several cases of influenza have already been confirmed in Middle Tennessee and doctors say this year's vaccine appears to be well suited to prevent what's already showing up.

"The predictions are holding firm and the vaccine looks well matched to the strains that we anticipate will be circulating this year," said Vanderbilt Professor of Preventative Medicine Dr. William Schaffner.

He added, "We always have to predict which influenza viruses are going to be circulating the coming winter and so far the isolates match very nicely with what's in the vaccine."

Flu shots are available at all clinics, most drug stores and at county health departments.

Dr. Schaffner told News 2 there are several things people should know about the vaccine before flu season.

• Pregnant women, if they get influenza, have complications that are comparable to seniors.
• The influenza vaccine traditionally protects against 3 different influenza strains. This year for the first time some of the vaccines will protect against 4."
• Young children less than 9 years of age who are getting vaccinated for the first time need two doses, separated by a month."
• Influenza vaccine does not cause the flu. You can't use that as an excuse. It's a myth."

Dr. Schaffner predicts this flu season will be reasonably typical unlike the 2012-2013 season which was moderately severe.

Flu season typically begins in December and peaks in February.

Dr. Schaffner said that the few isolated cases of influenza in September does not necessarily show a more severe flu season.

Read more at CDC.gov/Flu.

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