Knoxville named number one area for flu activity, health department offering free flu shots

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The latest edition of the Walgreens Flu Index says Knoxville is the number one spot in the country for flu activity.

That’s up from number four last week. The latest report is set to be released Tuesday.

Many kids are heading back to the classroom Tuesday after a long, holiday break, including students in Knox County.

Stacks of Tamiflu line the shelf on Mac’s Pharmacy in Knoxville. This season, pharmacists say they’ve seen a staggering number of sick people coming through the front doors.

“This flu season has been rougher than the past and it seems like it’s affecting the children, the children population, more so than the adults,” said pharmacist Jamie Price.

Because the flu is worse than usual, parents will want to keep a close eye on kids for flu-like symptoms.

On top of washing your hands well and sanitizing surfaces, doctors still say the best prevention from the flu is to get the flu shot. It’s offered at walk-in clinics, like Walgreens.

“Should you still get the flu even after you’ve had the vaccine, it’ll create a shorter duration of the flu virus,” Price said.

Tine Higdon is not just a pharmacist. She’s a mother. In fact, just a couple weeks ago her 9-year-old daughter came down with the flu.

“The fever just wasn’t going down and she was coughing and she just generally didn’t feel good and was tired,” Higdon said.

Even though she got the flumist, it took Tina’s daughter days to finally feel better.

“Her doctor said it would have been a lot worse had she not had that vaccine,” she said.

Health officials say, even when symptoms subside, your child may still be contagious.

“You are contagious as much as one day before you even show symptoms all the way up to five to seven days after you’ve had the flu. So, with that large of a window, a lot of people, a lot of kids especially, are affected,” said Price.

Price says, as a parent, if you’re unsure, it’s best to keep your kids home, that way you keep them and others safe.

Pharmacists say the most common symptoms of the flu this season are a fever, cough, runny nose along with aches and chills. If your kids show signs, it’s best to keep them home from school and visit a pediatrician.

The Walgreens Flu Index is a weekly report developed to provide state- and market-specific information regarding flu activity, and ranking of those experiencing the highest incidences of influenza across the country.

Free flu shots

As the influenza epidemic grows, the Knox County Health Department is offering free flu shots this week.

“If you haven’t had a flu vaccine, please get one now,” said KCHD Director Dr. Martha Buchanan. “Even though one strain in the vaccine is slightly different from what’s currently circulating, we still recommend vaccination. It will provide protection from the other strains in the vaccine and can reduce the severity and duration of illness if you get sick, even preventing some flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.”

Beginning Tuesday, those interested can get a free shot or FluMist at the following locations:

  • Knox County Health Department main location, 140 Dameron Avenue
  • West Clinic, 1028 Old Cedar Bluff Road
  • Teague Clinic, 405 Dante Road

Each office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The vaccinations are available while supplies last.

The health department also advises people in order to prevent the spread of flu, wash your hands well and often, cover your cough or sneeze, stay home if you’re sick, limit visits to friends and family in the hospital, and don’t visit the elderly, children or those with chronic health conditions if you’re sick.

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