Tennessee's Department of Health is reporting its first child to die of seasonal flu this flu season.
The department will make the report to the CDC this week as part of its weekly reporting of seasonal flu deaths among children and pregnant women.
The department would not release the age, location or exact date of the death of the child, citing privacy regulations.
Middle Tennessee also logged its 10th death from influenza overnight Wednesday, according to Dr. William Schaffner an infectious disease expert monitoring the flu at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
This season Dr. Schaffner says the H1N1 strain has hit healthy children and young adults especially hard and many have ended up in ICU.
"This virus doesn't affect the older population as much because back in the 1970s the older persons were younger and there was a virus very similar to it that went around," he said. "They got infected, they recovered and now they still have residual protection against viruses in this family."
Dr. Schaffner says this flu season is expected to be serious, meaning a longer flu season and more deaths.
"We are going to have a very noteworthy influenza season this year," he said. "We are off to a serious start."
Dr. Schaffner said it's important that people who have not received a flu shot, get one.
"Don't think about it, just do it, get vaccinated. Everybody in the country over six months old should be vaccinated," he said. "First of all it protects people completely who have strong immune systems although many young adults, older people might get a modified flu that is milder."
He added, "It protects from the complications of pneumonia."
Two additional flu-related deaths were reported along the Cumberland Plateau.
Two people, ages 36 and 39, died at Cookeville Regional Medical Center in Putnam County.
For those who haven't had a flu shot there is still time but you need to get it now because the body takes between 10 and 14 days to build up a protection from the flu.
The Meharry Medical College 12 South Community Clinic is offering free flu shots on Thursday evenings from 6pm to 9pm at the clinic located at 1501 12th avenue south.
No appointment is necessary and there are no income requirements to qualify for the free vaccination.
You can walk into the clinic or call 615-378-7585 to make an appointment.
1430 East Victory Drive
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