CDC: Southeast most active flu region, H1N1 the main strain.

CDC: Southeast most active flu region, H1N1 the main strain.

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Flashback to 2009's flu season- a pandemic of "swine flu" or H1N1, with no vaccine to treat it.

Now, five years later that H1N1 strain appears to be making a comeback, especially in our region.

According to the CDC, the Southeast is the most active flu region, with H1N1 as the main strain.

But this time around there's a difference.

"It is the same strain that's in the vaccine so we are encouraging people to get vaccinated it's not too late," David Kirschke, medical director, Northeast Regional Health Office of Tennessee Department of Health said.

H1N1 wasn't in the vaccine in 2009, but since then they've kept this strain in the vaccine anticipating a season like this one, where the main strain is H1N1.  

H1N1 is unique in that it affects a different group than regular seasonal flu.

"The 2009 H1N1 strain during the pandemic, affected everybody but it affected young and middle aged people more so than it usually does, and it looks like that may be happening again this year," Kirschke said.

According to the CDC, in 2009 the average age of people who died from H1N1 was 40 years-old.

"I think a lot of people underestimate it. We know that tens of thousands of people die every year of the flu so we know that it can be a severe illness, and I think some people will have the cold and think it's the flu so they'll think the flu's not very severe until they actually get the flu and feel like they're going to die," Kirschke said.

Kirschke said it's just the start of flu season but they've already seen some severe cases among that age group here in Tennessee,  but he said he doesn't anticipate the numbers to be anything like 2009 because this time there's a solution.

The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months gets a flu vaccine.

Kirschke says it's not too late, the flu season can run all the way it to spring.

This year you have a variety of options as far as the vaccine goes.

This is the first year you can choose between the traditional three strain vaccine or a new version that protects from a fourth strain too.

For people at a higher risk like pregnant women, people with diabetes, and people over 65- there's even a higher dose option.

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