State and local leaders urge public to get flu shots

John Thompson • Oct 30, 2019 at 9:26 PM

ELIZABETHTON — On Tuesday morning at the Carter County Health Department, some of Tennessee’s most prominent health officials and political leaders practiced what they have been preaching about having everyone get a flu shot.

Dr. Lisa Piercey, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health, gave the influenza vaccinations to Carter County Mayor Rusty Barnett, state Rep. John Holsclaw, R-Elizabethton, and Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, chairman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

The three said they did not feel any sting from Piercey’s inoculations. Holsclaw said she gave him a shot that was very quick and painless.

Piercey is a West Tennessee pediatrician. As she administered the shots, she also discussed the advantages of getting the shot. She said there were three major advantages. The first and most obvious advantage is to avoid catching the flu.

She said the flu experience of Australia in the Southern Hemisphere can provide an advance view of what the upcoming flu season will be like in the Northern Hemisphere. She said Australia experienced an early and severe flu season, so it is a good idea to get flu shots early this year, since it takes a shot a couple of weeks to develop immunity. She said the effects of the shot last six months, so a shot taken now should last through the flu season.

Piercy said the good news from Australia was the vaccine appeared to be a good match this year.

She said a second advantage of taking the flu shot is that in the rare event that the patient still comes down with the flu, the shot should make the symptoms less severe.

The final advantage is that if you take the shot, you are less likely to transmit the disease. This works to make an entire population less vulnerable. “The elderly, infants, those on chemotherapy, what we call the vulnerable population,” are better protected from the flu, Piercey said.

Crowe said he has gotten the flu shot every year for many years “and I haven’t gotten the flu.”

Crowe then went on to address the large focus of the state’s health concerns, especially substance abuse. “What I like about this commissioner and the governor is they are interested in addressing the problem now rather than waiting to treat adults with a bigger problem later.”

“Instead of putting health care to the test later, we need to put prevention to the test now, and flu shots are a good way to do that,” Piercey said.

Caroline Hurt, Carter County Health Department director, showed Piercey around the recently renovated building, which was funded by $500,000 in state funds and another $500,000 in county funds.

The local health department is doing its part to get as many people inoculated as possible, including a free flu shot day on Nov. 19 from 2-5 p.m. The Health Department is located at 403 E. G St.

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