‘Tis the season – flu season that is! Sanjana Stamm, director of nursing at the Metro Health Department, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss how to avoid coming down with influenza this winter. View her segment here.

It’s important to get a flu vaccine every year to protect yourself and those around from you from getting sick. Flu season peaks in late November and runs through February, but it’s possible to contract the disease as early as October and as late as May. The CDC advises everyone six months of age and older to get a flu shot, and the ideal time to get vaccinated is before the end of October. If you haven’t had your vaccine by then, however, it’s never too late and better to be protected.

Symptoms of the flu can last from one to two weeks and include a fever, headache, sore throat and runny nose. Though general symptoms are usually pretty mild, the biggest danger lies in potential complications that could lead to hospitalization or death. These complications most often occur in higher risk groups, such as children younger than two years of age, seniors older than 65 years of age, and populations living in close proximity.

Regarding safety of the vaccine, it’s important to know a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. Studies have proven that the vaccine is very safe and can save lives. If you get the vaccine, there’s still a risk of contracting the flu, but it lessens the severity and the illness will not last as long.

If you suspect that you may have the flu, stay at home. To further protect yourself and those around you against illness, practice good hygiene by frequently washing your hands and always covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing.

To find a facility to get the flu vaccine near you, contact your doctor or local health department. For more information about influenza, go to CDC.gov/flu or Health.Nashville.gov.

By Dr. Karen Cassidy, Market Medical Director, UnitedHealthcare of Tennessee

We’re in the midst of a severe flu season, but it’s not too late to help protect yourself and your family from getting the flu.

Influenza is a serious disease that typically peaks in February and runs through March. About 5 percent to 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The flu can cost the United States more than $87 billion annually and can be responsible for the loss of about 17 million workdays and substantial classroom time each flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, the flu is not just a cause of missed work and school. Every year, thousands of people die from influenza and its complications.

The best way to protect yourself and reduce your chances of getting the flu is to get the flu vaccine, according to the CDC. Everyone who is at least 6 months old should get the flu vaccine. Getting vaccinated is especially important for people who have certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or chronic lung disease, and for pregnant women, young children and people age 65 and older.

Despite the evidence and recommendations, many people won’t get vaccinated, which makes it more likely they will get and transmit the flu. That puts your own personal health and well-being at risk, and it could increase the chances of your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors getting sick, too.

The flu vaccine is not expensive. In most cases, the cost of a flu shot or nasally administered vaccine is covered by your health plan, whether you buy health insurance on your own or are covered through your employer, Medicare or Medicaid. However, be sure to check your benefit plan for specific coverage details. More employers are now offering free flu shot clinics at the office.

Getting the flu vaccine is fast, easy and convenient. It generally takes no more than five minutes. Most neighborhood pharmacies offer walk-in options so you don’t need to make an appointment. You can also go to your primary care doctor or a nearby wellness clinic. To find a list of flu shot providers near you, visit Flu.gov and enter your ZIP code, or ask your health plan how to find a network care provider.

There are two kinds of flu vaccines. One is an injectable vaccine and is available to everybody 6 months or older. The nasally administered vaccine may be given to children older than 2 years of age and adults up to age 50 who do not have chronic diseases. Ask your doctor or pharmacist which vaccine is right for you.

Young, healthy people get the flu, too. Influenza does not discriminate against age or health habits. Just because you’re young or don’t typically get sick doesn’t mean you can’t catch the flu. You can catch the flu from someone who has yet to exhibit any symptoms of being sick.

In addition to getting vaccinated, remember to take preventive measures like washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth when you cough to help reduce the spread of germs. And if you are sick with the flu, stay home to prevent spreading the flu to others.

Flu season typically peaks this month and lasts through March, so if you haven’t got the flu vaccine yet, make an appointment today. Now is the time to make your and your family’s health a priority.


Did you know you can reduce your risk of sharing cold and flu viruses with your co-workers?

Try these 5 simple prevention strategies from WebMD.
– Call in sick when necessary
– Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
– Wash your hands often
– Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
– Wipe down your desk and other common areas with disinfectant

Did you know every year, between 5 and 20 percent of Americans get the flu?

This is according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.For most people, the flu results in a few missed days of school or work. But every year, thousands of people die from flu and its complications. The best way to protect yourself and reduce your chances of getting the flu is to get a flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone who is at least 6 months old should get the flu vaccine. The vaccine is especially important for people who have certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or chronic lung disease, and for pregnant women, young children and people 65 and older.

December’s topics include health and wellness in Tennessee, nutritious guidelines and lifestyle choices, and staying healthy during cold and flu season.

Rick Johnson from The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness talks about Healthier Tennessee and the small steps you can take that add up to a healthier life. While making the choice to live healthier can be difficult, “Healthier Tennessee” is dedicated to encouraging Tennesseans to live healthier lives.

Diabetes Educator Sarah Neil Pilkinton from Williamson Medical Center joins us to share some nutritious guidelines and lifestyle choices to help combat diabetes, a growing epidemic in America and Tennessee alike.

Dr. Brent Coil, a family medicine physician from Nashville Medical Group, discusses cold and flu season and ways to stay healthy this year.