NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The latest flu report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows exactly what doctors have been bracing for: Southeastern and South-Central states, including Tennessee, are seeing the highest levels of flu activity nationwide.

According to Dr. David Sparks, a medical director at Complete Health Partners, this news doesn’t shock him when compared to the number of cases seen at the urgent care clinics in Nashville and Hendersonville.

“Probably 20% of the people that we see in the office are positive for flu. It doesn’t surprise me that we’re that high,” he said.

Besides Tennessee, the states that are currently classified as having “very high” flu levels are Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C., according to the CDC’s flu activity map.

“I think the reason that it’s so high right now, especially in the Southeast here, is because restrictions are lifted and we’re seeing more tourism than usual, so people are already traveling, and therefore, causing some exposure,” Sparks explained. “I think it’s just going to get worse.”

If you plan on celebrating the holidays in other states around the South, Sparks encourages people to get vaccinated against the flu before traveling.

The doctor said he suspects the number of flu cases is going to get worse after Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“Definitely get the vaccine. That is the best way to help prevent it,” said Sparks. “And yes, everybody knows somebody who had the vaccine and got the flu anyway, but even in that case, it’s usually not as severe and it’s easier to treat.”

The Metro Public Health Department is offering free flu shots all season long. All you need to do is make an appointment. Click here for more information.