KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Flu season is upon us and Tennesseans are falling ill. Both Tennessee and Knoxville rank among the worst in the nation for flu activity, according to Walgreens prescription data for antiviral medications updated in late November.

Walgreens Flu Index tracks state and market-specific information for flu activity using retail prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza across Walgreens locations nationwide. The drugstore chain operates around 9,000 stores in all 50 states and territories. In Tennessee, there are more than 250 Walgreens locations.

Knoxville, Tenn. is rated the worst Walgreens’ Designated Market Area (DMA) for flu activity, while Tennessee is ranked in top 10 worst states/territories for flu activity. The data was last updated Nov. 27.

The Centers for Disease Control weekly influenza surveillance report for the week ending on Nov. 27, which monitors visits for influenza-like illness such as fever or sore throat, categorized influenza-like illness activity in Tennessee as ‘minimal’. ILI activity levels in most states were labeled by the CDC as low or minimal while two states, Georgia and Mississippi, were labeled moderate. Only New Mexico was rated ‘high’ for ILI activity.

Health care experts say the flu (influenza) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often experience fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Here are the flu index lists shared by Walgreens:

Top 10 Designated Market Areas (DMAs) with Flu Activity (11/27/2021)

1. Knoxville, Tenn.
2. Baton Rouge, La.
3. Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas
4. Columbia-Jefferson City, Mo.
5. Tallahassee, Fla.-Thomasville, Ga.
6. Chattanooga, Tenn.
7. Columbus-Tupelo-West Point-Houston, Miss.
8. Birmingham (Anniston and Tuscaloosa), Ala.
9. Nashville, Tenn.
10. Oklahoma City, Okla.

Top 10 States/Territories with Flu Activity (11/27/2021)

1. Tennessee
2. Alabama
3. Mississippi
4. Louisiana
5. Oklahoma
6. Texas
7. South Carolina
8. Georgia
9. Illinois
10. Missouri

The Flu and COVID-19

Medical experts say the flu and COVID-19 are both contagious infections caused by different viruses that spread through respiratory droplets. They can cause mild to severe illnesses and similar symptoms, including fever, cough, body aches and fatigue, which are sometimes difficult to distinguish due to their similarities.

Experts also say if a person is interested in getting vaccinated against the flu, it’s highly recommended as the flu becomes more widespread. As for pairing the flu vaccine shot with a COVID-19 vaccine shot, officials say that yes, they can be administered together or during the same visit.

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