The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department is now offering flu shots at all their locations. Anyone six months or older is encouraged to get the vaccine. Medicare, TennCare and select other insurance providers can be billed. For those who want to pay out-of-pocket for a flu vaccination, the cost is $35, or $55 for the ages 65-and-over high dose flu vaccine. Some people may be eligible for free or reduced cost vaccine.
"The influenza virus is easily spread from person to person," officials said. "Sneezing, coughing and talking produce infectious droplets that eventually contact the mouth, nose and mucous membranes of another person.
In this way, the virus moves rapidly through the population. When the virus reaches someone who is vaccinated, not only are they less likely to get the flu, but they are less likely to transmit the virus to others. The more people who are vaccinated, the more difficult it is for the virus to spread.
“Getting a flu shot is the most effective way to prevent catching the flu,” says Health Department Nurse Sharon Goforth, “When you are protected and others around you are protected, then the virus has nowhere to go.”
Young children, adults aged 65 years or older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions are at risk for more serious complications from the flu, requiring hospitalization or even resulting in death. According to the CDC model, the 2018-2019 flu season saw 531,000–647,000 hospitalizations and 36,400–61,200 deaths in the United States. During the same period, 116 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC.
Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses.
The nasal mist flu vaccine is available this year in limited quantities to individuals age 2-49 years.
The most effective way to prevent influenza is to get the annual influenza vaccine. Other preventive measures include:
Wash hands often with soap and warm water;
Avoid people who are sick;
If you become sick, seek medical care, take anti-virals if prescribed, and remain at home;
Cover your cough or sneeze, and if you do so with a tissue, throw it away, do not carry it around; and
Keep your immune system healthy by quitting tobacco, eating healthy, and being active.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. These usually last from a few days to less than two weeks. It is possible to infect others even when you do not show any symptoms.
The CDC estimates that nearly 17 million work days are lost each year due to the flu, resulting in approximately $7 billion per year in sick days and lost productivity. Free tools for businesses and employers can be found here
Flu vaccine will be available at all Health Department locations:
• 3rd Street Main Campus:
o adults - call for appointment 209-8340.
o children - walk-in; call 209-8050 for more information.
• Ooltewah Health Center - walk-in; call 238-4269 for more information.
• Sequoyah Health Center - walk-in; call 842-3031 for more information.
• Birchwood Health Center – walk-in or appointment; call 961-0446 to make appointment or for more information.
Visit the Health Department’s Influenza website here