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Maury Regional Health reports on respiratory illnesses

Posted on Friday, January 12, 2024 at 3:00 pm

COLUMBIA, Tenn. — Respiratory illnesses are hitting communities hard across the country — particularly the Southeast — and southern Middle Tennessee is not immune.

Maury Regional Medical Center reported 148 patients who tested positive for COVID-19, influenza or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) between Dec. 24-31. According to Maury Regional Health Chief Medical Officer Christina Lannom, DO, 24 of those patients were hospitalized on Dec. 31.

“This is the season when respiratory illness tends to peak and this year is no exception,” Dr. Lannom said. “All of these illnesses spread rapidly and are transmitted through respiratory droplets, so make sure you’re taking precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. This includes covering your cough or sneeze, washing your hands frequently with soap and water, staying hydrated and getting plenty of sleep. Also, if you are experiencing any symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for any of these viruses, it is important to isolate and mask so that you are protecting those around you.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), national rates for positive tests and emergency department visits associated with respiratory illness have steadily increased since the start of October. The most recent data reported showed that during the week ending Dec. 30, there were almost 35,000 new hospitalizations nationally due to COVID-19 and more than 20,000 due to influenza. The state of Tennessee is among several states in the Southeast reporting at the highest possible respiratory illness activity level.

Those most vulnerable to severe complications from respiratory illness include infants and seniors, as well as those with certain chronic medical conditions or those who are immunocompromised.

“The single best way to avoid complications from respiratory illnesses is to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the flu and RSV,” Dr. Lannom said. “Discuss these vaccines with your physician. It’s not too late to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

Vaccines are available for all three respiratory illnesses and are recommended for the following:

  • COVID-19: Updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax are recommended by the CDC for everyone 5 years of age and older who haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past two months. Children 6 months to 4 years of age need multiple doses to be up to date, while children 5-11 years old should get one updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. Those 12 years and older should get either one Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or two doses of the Novavax vaccine.
  • Flu: The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every year with rare exceptions, particularly those who are at higher risk of serious complications from influenza.
  • RSV: The CDC recommends all adults 60 and older, as well as pregnant females, receive a single-dose RSV vaccine, especially those with certain chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease and immunocompromising conditions and those living in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. Nirsevimab, a one-dose, long-acting monoclonal antibody, is also recommended for all infants aged 8 months or younger entering their first RSV season.

Insurance coverage for vaccines may vary based on your plan. Contact your insurance provider to learn more and consult your physician if you have any questions about the vaccines.

Remember the everyday actions you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from these viruses: wash your hands regularly with soap and water, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, avoid contact with those who are sick and stay home if you’re sick.

For more information on respiratory illnesses, including symptoms, testing and vaccinations, visit