Is it too late to get a flu shot?

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Knox County Schools is one of a few systems in East Tennessee that's not closing its schools because of illness.

Volunteer TV's Liz Tedone has the details as to why.

It's that time of year when flu and various illnesses seem to plague classrooms, and in East Tennessee, a number of schools have canceled classes for Friday, even Monday, because of a high absentee rate.

As surrounding counties close school Friday and Monday because of flu and other illnesses, Knox County students remain healthy with a 91 percent attendance rate. The number of reported flu cases this year is very low.

"Our last big flu season was in 2004, and we had over 2000 cases at this time that year. Right now we have around 150-160 cases," said Dr. Martha Buchanan from the Knox County Health Department.

And Dr. Buchanan says that could be because of two things, either a light flu season or a late season. Statewide, reported flu cases are down as well. If you haven't had a vaccine, it's not too late, you haven't missed flu season.

"Which in East Tennessee can be as late as march and even later. As long as we have flu circulating in the community, it is appropriate for you to get vaccinated," Dr. Buchanan said.

This year, almost half of Knox County's 60,000 students got the flu mist vaccine. Is that the reason attendance is so high? Health Department officials don't have the data to back up that claim, but we've learned there is a correlation between those numbers in the past three years.

The best prevention measure aside from a vaccine, is to wash your hands thoroughly and often.

Last year at this time there were almost 500 reported flu cases in Knox County. It's important to note that it's impossible to truly track flu cases because it's not considered a reportable disease, whereby your doctor's office would alert the Health Department of your illness.

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