The influenza outbreak in Tennessee is getting worse, and the state is now one of 40 across the country in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says flu activity is widespread.
The death toll in Middle Tennessee this flu season is now 14, and more than 400 people have been hospitalized with flu complications.
County health departments are doing what they can to get people vaccinated, but with a declining supply of free vaccine, they're saying the free doses need to be reserved for those who can't afford one themselves.
Health departments in Williamson, Rutherford, Cheatham and Sumner counties are either completely out of flu vaccines, or said they would be out Friday evening.
Montgomery, Wilson and Robertson counties are offering shots by appointment only to the uninsured and TennCare patients.
And the Metro Public Health Department said Friday afternoon it is out of flu vaccine after providing all 10,000 doses of vaccine to the community. There are no plans to order additional flu vaccine, officials said.
Mindy Thiele is required to get a flu shot for nursing school, but she said, even if she weren't required, she'd still be getting one.
"I take it a little more seriously now than I used to. I've never gotten the flu, and I didn't used to get the shot. And now, I don't want to have it, and I take it more seriously," Thiele said.
Health officials say a lot of people were moved to get the flu shot after the death of an 11-year-old girl in Sumner County. As far as actual cases go, the number of people going to the doctor with flu-like symptoms has increased just slightly.
Last week, about seven percent of the people doctors saw were demonstrating the symptoms of a flu-like virus. In the most recent report released Friday, it's about 10 percent.
By next week, local pharmacies, grocery stores and individual clinics may be the only places left to get the shot as counties run out. That's why Brenda McAdory doesn't mind her boss knowing where she ran off to on her lunch break.
"I'm a teacher, so I don't want to miss any school days. Matter of fact, I should be at work right now," she said.
Here's a tip: be sure to call before you start driving around town. One mother said she dropped by three places Friday before she found one with a vaccine, where her daughter was eligible to get the shot.
She has insurance, but some health departments' branches are running so low that they're not allowed to give shots to anyone, unless they're on TennCare or don't have insurance.
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