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Health specialists recommend getting flu shots

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By PETER SAWYER

While many in Campbell County have been sick, few have come to LaFollette Medical Center with the flu.
“We are seeing lots of sick people, mimicking flu symptoms,” said Amanda Seiber, employee health nurse at LaFollette Medical Center. “But it’s turned out it’s more or less (cold). Of all the cases tested (for flu), the volume is very low. Our numbers are low at the time being.”
Flu symptoms include: fever, aches, chills, cough and runny nose, Seiber said.
However, tracking every instance of flu is difficult, according to Tamara Chavez-Lindell, epidemiologist for the East Tennessee Regional Health Department.
“Flu is not reportable,” Chavez-Lindell said. “It’s not something we keep a specific tally of.”
The flu isn’t among the diseases and illnesses law requires be reported to the health department, Chavez-Lindell said. Most people aren’t officially diagnosed with flu, but catch a flu like illness and don’t see a physician.
However, this doesn’t mean the health department doesn’t monitor the spread of flu.
“We do track flu across the region,” Chavez-Lindell said.
The Sentinel Provider Network is a nation-wide program used to watch flu. It’s run by the Center for Disease Control. Participating doctors report how many flu-like illnesses they see each week. They can also submit samples to help the CDC find out what strains of flu are circulating.
Another way the CDC tracks flu is through fluview. Fluview is a weekly influenza surveillance report prepared by the influenza division, the CDC website said. Tennessee is reporting a high level of flu activity, according to fluview on the CDC’s website.
“The advice the doctors are giving is, good hand washing, and not exposing yourself to the public if you do feel sick,” Seiber said. “Especially do not send your child to school if they have those kinds of symptoms.”
Flu season usually peaks in December, but lasts until March, Seiber said.
LMC hosted a flu clinic Saturday morning. People came and received free flu shots.
“The important thing is it’s not too late for people to get their flu shot,” Chavez-Lindell said.
People can call the local health department to find out about availability, Chavez-Lindell said.