(Memphis) - Flu outbreak is spreading across the Mid-South and it has turned deadly in Arkansas. The flu hit early this year and emergency rooms are filling up.
A map from the Centers for Disease Control shows Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas are among the states with the worst flu outbreaks. The situation is bad in Tennessee.
Flu cases are at the high level and have forced some school systems to close down because of so many sick children. In Mississippi, the northeast has been hardest hit. Workers are scrubbing down schools every day.
In Arkansas the flu is being blamed for seven deaths.
Doctors say you can avoid this and it's not too late. The Shelby County Health Department will now give you the flu shot for free.
“Any person 6 months or older needs to get the flu vaccine,” Dr. Helen Morrow said.
Morrow said the vaccine is the first, and best, line of defense against influenza.
“The A strain that is circulating predominately this year is in the vaccine so the vaccine is a good match this year,” she said.
But so far people are not lining up to get their free flu shots at the health department.
Tuesday the waiting room was empty.
But pharmacist Charles Smith said he's seen an influx in people in his pharmacy looking for flu relief.
“If it is the flu there is very little they can do other than treat the symptoms and make them comfortable,” he said. “Give them a decongestant and give them something for the cough or an expectorant.”
So prevention remains key. Health officials remind us that droplets of the flu can be anywhere.
So wash your hands and be vigilant.
“Don’t touch around your nose or mouth you could pick it up from door knob and then touch around your nose and mouth and get the flu that way,” Dr. Morrow said.
Dr. Morrow added that the flu vaccine will not make you sick, but it will take about 2 weeks for it to work.
The free vaccines will be given at the 7 Health Department satellite offices, as well as at the main branch, until they are gone.