KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Flu season is in full swing in Tennessee.
While much of the focus has been on COVID lately, health experts point out that the flu has also been spreading in our communities.
On the CDC's weekly influenza map, Tennessee is marked a dark red, meaning it is ranked "Very High" for influenza-like illness. Similarly, Walgreens Flu Index ranks Tennessee as the fifth leading state for flu activity, with Knoxville also being ranked as the fifth highest city. CVS's flu map also shares a similar story with Knoxville marked as "Very High" for flu risk.
"We want people to be really careful if they have the flu, or around people with flu like symptoms. Respiratory pathogens can can spread very easily just because we sneeze and it kind of can travel quite a while quite a way," said Corinne Tandy, Knox County Health Department’s lead epidemiologist.
According to Tandy, the flu is more present now than last year because more people are out and about.
"I'm not terribly surprised to see that you know that there wasn't as much flu because we were doing an excellent job of preventing respiratory illnesses all around, because we were doing these things that help prevent any respiratory illness," said Tandy.
Flu symptoms are similar to COVID symptoms: shortness of breath, coughing and congestion. While the symptoms are the same, so are the methods of prevention.
"So we really recommend that vaccination, as well as those same layered mitigation strategies, washing your hands, wearing a mask, keeping your distance from folks staying home when you're sick. And those same prevention strategies will will help with both influenza and COVID," said Tandy.
If you wish to get a flu vaccine, you can make an appointment or visit your local pharmacy or grocery store.
You can also call the Knox County Health Department at (865) 215-5000 to set up an appointment for a shot or visit their website to see your vaccine options.