A local Memorial Hospital doctor is urging folks in the Tennessee Valley to get the flu vaccine before its too late.

Local hospitals continue to report more and more cases:

  • Erlanger: 230 since Dec. 1
  • Memorial: 280 since Nov. 1
  • Skyridge (Cleveland): more than 200 since Dec. 1
  • Grandview (Jasper): 51 confirmed cases after 272 people tested with flu-like symptoms since Nov. 1

"It's very busy. As an infectious disease specialist, our number of consults has sky-rocketed," said Dr. Mark Anderson.

Dr. Mark Anderson at Memorial Hospital said there's no doubt it's a bad year for the flu.

"It hasn't gone about the threshold to call it an epidemic but it is a severe year and in particular because the last couple years have been light flu seasons," he said.

Dr. Anderson and other doctors at Memorial have treated more than 60 people for the flu in the last two weeks alone. He said there's no excuse not to get the shot.

"It is absolutely not too late, we're looking at more activity in this flu season for at least the next few weeks," he said. "There's a lot of misinformation on the Internet about the dangers of the vaccine that leads a lot of people to not want to take it."

At Erlanger, officials expect this week's flu-related numbers to be the highest all season.

Jennifer King of the North Georgia Health District said there's been 20 confirmed deaths in her region. She won't say what county or counties the deaths are in because there's not an outbreak specific to one region. The flu, she said, is all around us. She also stressed the importance of getting a flu shot.

Abena Williams at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department said they originally started giving free flu shots to all uninsured folks ages 19-64. But last week, Williams said, they decided to give everyone the shot for free.