A healthy start starts here.

Keep Flu Away from Your Family

Flu season in Tennessee is typically at its peak in January and February, but the season starts in the fall. As the 2017-18 flu season approaches, it’s important to take action now to keep your family healthy and free of the flu.

Governor Bill Haslam has proclaimed October 1-7, 2017 as Child Health Week in Tennessee. Child Health Week celebrates and raises awareness for the state’s work to promote the health of our most important resource—Tennessee’s children. “Each of us has a role to play to help keep Tennessee children safe, healthy and on track,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH.

A good first step is a simple flu vaccine. You can get it through a shot from your doctor, a pharmacy or your county health department.

This year, the vaccine is being delivered only through shots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended in the U.S. for the second straight year.

Flu Shots Save Lives

Flu shots are extremely important for children. The flu virus is common and unpredictable. It can cause serious issues and death, even in healthy children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population will get the flu each year. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications, including 20,000 children under age 5.

The AAP and CDC recommend annual flu shots for all people ages 6 months and older. That is especially the case for children under the age of 5. A decision not to get a flu shot for a child leaves the child at higher risk and also could put others at risk.

Why Flu Is Dangerous

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, the flu can lead to pneumonia, heart attacks and other complications that can cause people to be admitted to the hospital.

The flu is highly contagious. The flu and other viruses are easily spread in schools, workplaces and homes where people are in close contact. When flu spreads in school, children who get sick often must stay home for a week or more. That causes them to miss important lessons and their parents to miss work.

In addition to young children, the flu vaccine is also extremely important for people with chronic health problems and people 65 and older. That’s because they have a higher risk of catching a serious illness. It’s also very important for pregnant women to get a flu shot. When they protect themselves, they also pass protection on to their newborn child.

Flu Shots Are Safe

According to the Tennessee Immunization Program, it’s not possible for a flu shot to give anyone the flu. The side effects of the flu vaccine are usually mild and last only a couple of days or less.

Get Free Vaccinations

The state can help make flu shots easier to afford through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. VFC helps families of children who may not otherwise be able to get vaccines by providing free vaccines to doctors who serve them. Find out if you’re eligible for this program.

Additional Resources

For more information on the flu vaccine and to locate vaccine providers in your area, visit the Tennessee Department of Health.

Learn about seven steps that can help children stay healthy this winter and all year.

The AAP provides ten things parents should know about the 2017-18 flu season.

Learn five Small Starts to becoming a healthier family.

Search the kidcentral tn State Services Directory to find more state resources and programs available near you.