State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry, M.D. announced today that parish health units statewide will host open walk-in H1N1 vaccination clinics this week, as LDH is receiving reports from across that state that hospitals and physician offices have seen an increase in flu-like illnesses in the past few weeks. Dr. Guidry stressed there is always the potential for another wave of the virus to occur, and encouraged Louisiana residents to help prevent this by taking the time to be vaccinated against H1N1.
CDC influenza surveillance reports show an increase in activity across the South, and surrounding states such as Arkansas and Texas have also individually reported an increase in influenza-like activity. LDH is working with providers, health organizations, and other groups to raise awareness of the continued importance of receiving the H1N1 influenza vaccination.
"Vaccines are the best preventive measure we have to help fight the spread of disease, and we encourage everyone to get their H1N1 flu shot to help protect not only themselves, but their families and friends as well," said Dr. Guidry. "The H1N1 vaccine has proven to be very safe and effective. Those groups that were initially slated for vaccination are still seeing the most illness and hospitalizations, and we encourage those in high risk groups that are still unvaccinated, or were waiting to be sure the H1N1 vaccine was safe, to take this opportunity to protect themselves against H1N1 through the spring and summer months."
Since the state's Fight the Flu campaign began late last year, 37,407 doses of vaccine have been administered at parish health units statewide, as well as nearly 440,000 additional doses given by other health care providers across the state.
The CDC reports that more than 80 million Americans have received the H1N1 vaccine, including 477,093 in Louisiana as of March 18. To date, 697 Louisianians have been hospitalized with H1N1, and there have been 52 confirmed H1N1 related deaths.
Louisiana Office of Public Health Units hosting open H1N1 clinics the week of March 22-26, 2010. All parish health units will host open H1N1 clinics the week of March 22-26. All Louisiana citizens who are unvaccinated are encouraged to visit their local parish health unit to receive the H1N1 vaccination. No appointment will be necessary, as additional staff will be assigned to each health unit. There will be no charge for the H1N1 vaccination.
These walk-in clinics are open to everyone, however LDH strongly encourages any unvaccinated person in the target groups for the H1N1 vaccine to consider it at this time, including children aged six months through 24 years, pregnant women, front line health care workers, parents and other caregivers of children less than 6 months of age, parents and caregivers of people with physical and developmental disabilities, and non-elderly (under 65) adults with pre-existing medical conditions. These groups are considered target groups because they are at higher risk for complications from the virus or transmitting the virus to others.
DHH's Fight the Flu campaign aims to keep Louisianians healthy by promoting immunizations and good hygiene to prevent the spread of the seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus.
For more information on flu activity in Louisiana, including guidance for families and medical professionals, visit www.FightTheFluLA.com or follow the campaign at www.twitter.com/FightTheFluLA. Residents can also call 2-1-1 for additional information regarding the H1N1 flu.