Sullivan County

Flu vaccines could save lives

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Mother of eight Cheryl Manis says her family always gets vaccinated for the flu, especially with two toddlers running around.

"Our twins were born in the middle of winter, so it was important to get everyone vaccinated," said Cheryl Manis.

We learned from the Health Department that they are pushing the flu shot because 200,000 people are hospitalized every year from complications from the seasonal flu; 36,000 die from the flu every year.

We discovered it is not only important to get the shot to protect you self, but also to protect those around you. This is because people who are at a high risk for getting the flu have immune systems that are not as responsive to the flu vaccine, making it harder for it to protect them. "Even when they get the flu vaccines, it's still helpful to them for people who they may come in contact with to protect themselves," said Tennessee Health Department Commissioner John Dreyzehner.

People at a higher risk of developing flu-related complications if they get sick are people over the age of 65, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma and diabetes; pregnant women and children under the age of five.

We also learned that anyone with a BMI of 40 or more, anyone with HIV or AIDs and cancer patients are also at a high risk.

Dreyzehner tells me more people are taking the vaccines now. "Last year nearly 46 percent of the population got vaccinated against influenza," said Dreyzehner.

However, even if your family takes the vaccine, they are still at risk. "You can get other illnesses throughout the course of the year even if you get the flu vaccine like other colds and illnesses," said Dreyzehner.

A few things to remember during flu season are to always wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer; cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze; and be sure to pair all of that with healthy eating and exercise.

Infants under six months cannot get the vaccine, but if the mother gets it while she's pregnant she passes the antibodies onto her child. That will protect them for the first six months of their life.

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