KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — UT Extension health experts are warning Tennesseans that this flu season could be more serve compared to the last several seasons.
Associate professor and UT Extension community health specialist Soghra Jarvandi says that as cases of other respiratory viruses rise and more COVID-19 pandemic precautions are relaxed, more people will come in contact with the flu virus.
Fewer people both got sick with the flu and were hospitalized with severe illness during the pandemic as a result of the precautions taken for COVID-19. These precautions decreased COVID-19 cases but also lowered the risk of exposure to other respiratory diseases—like the flu or RSV.
Anyone can become infected with the flu virus. However, some populations are at a higher risk of complications:
- Children younger than 5 years old
- Adults 65-and-over
- People with HIV/AIDS
- People with cancer
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 32 million Americans got the flu from 2012-2020, including an average of 36,000 deaths per year.
Jarvandi recommends receiving a flu vaccine.
“Anyone six months of age or older should get an annual flu vaccine, with rare exception. Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk for serious complications from the flu,” Jarvandi said.
Other steps of flu prevention include wearing a mask or isolating when you're sick, washing your hands frequently, eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.