NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The dreaded and dangerous flu season has reached its peak in Tennessee, and while it's not over yet, it's certainly winding down.
When that happens, plans for next season kick into high gear, according to Dr. William Schaffner chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“Influenza comes and creates a lot of disturbance, and then it goes and the severity has been about an average season,” he said.
Last year, health departments across Tennessee received shipments of the flu vaccine in early September, and by October, Davidson County residents were rolling up their sleeves to fight the flu virus.
Dr. William Schaffner said, “Influenza is fickle. Sometimes, it hits one part of the country harder than another. In the Southeast, [we] have had a lot of the influenza this year. We've had a bit more than much of the rest of the country.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps track of flu cases across the country.
Its updated map shows Tennessee with regional flu cases while a majority of the country is still dealing with widespread flu.
Dr. Schaffner said, “As March moves along, and we get into April, we get fewer and fewer cases of influenza.”
As this flu season winds down, doctors are working on the battle plan for next year.
Dr. Schaffner said, “It's a year-round occupation to figure out which vaccine strains get put into the vaccines each year, and the experts are actually meeting now to try to pick out which strains will go into next fall's vaccines, because it takes that long to actually manufacture the vaccines.”
Dr. Schaffner said it's too late to get the flu vaccine for this season, but he urges everyone to make plans to get vaccinated this fall when the next flu season begins.
Read more about the seasonal flu online at CDC.gov.