Health Department Urges Residents to Get their Annual Flu Shot

HAMILTON COUNTY, TN – The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department will offer flu shots at all their locations beginning October 1, 2018. Anyone 6 months or older is encouraged to get the vaccine. Medicare, TennCare, and select other insurance providers can be billed and some people may be eligible for free or reduced cost. For those who want to pay out-of-pocket for a flu vaccination, the cost is $35, or $55 for the 65-and-over high dose.   

The influenza virus is easily spread from person to person. 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 Connie Buecker, Communicable Disease Clinics Program Manager at the Health Department, “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, the 2017-2018 flu season was record breaking with more than 900,000 hospitalizations and more than 80,000 deaths. The previous records were in 2010 with 710,000 hospitalizations and 56,000 deaths.  

Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses.

.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, and take anti-virals if prescribed by your health care provider.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze, and if you do so with a tissue, throw it away, do not carry it around.

  • 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.

 Each year, the CDC estimates that nearly 111 million work days are lost 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

    • Adults - call for appointment 209-8340

    • 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.