NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State health experts are urging Tennesseans to get influenza vaccines as this season’s outbreak peaks later than usual. Tennessee is one of 27 states nationwide whose flu status is categorized as widespread when activity is scattered across the state, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There have been 36 laboratory-confirmed cases of flu since the season began in the early fall, the Tennessee Department of Health said. At this time last year, there were 59 lab-confirmed cases.

The majority of flu cases are not reported to state officials because doctors do not perform lab tests to confirm whether a patient’s flu-like symptoms are caused by the virus, (Snip) He estimates the number of flu cases will peak this month and stretch well into April. February often is the month with the highest number of flu cases.

It is not too late to get this season’s flu shot because the vaccine becomes effective within seven to 10 days, Schaffner said. The match between the vaccine and the dominating circulating strain of the flu is very close and near the same this year,” Schaffner said. Partial protection is better than no protection at all.” The vaccine is most needed for children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions, he said.

The CDC estimates that 5 percent to 20 percent of the population will get the flu each year.