With influenza (flu) season upon us, Louisiana Department of Health (DHH) Secretary Kathy H. Kliebert, LDH Regional Medical Director Dr. Tina Stefanski and Academy of Health Careers at Lafayette High School Director Jennifer Morrow promoted ways to fight the flu by receiving their annual flu vaccinations Nov. 18 at Lafayette High School.

The annual flu vaccination event is part of the State's efforts to remind Louisiana residents about the importance of getting vaccinated against the flu. Information on where to get vaccinated is available at www.fighttheflu.la.gov

"Getting an annual flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu," LDH Secretary Kathy Kliebert said. "The holidays are upon us. We must protect ourselves and our families from the flu by getting the flu shot."

Flu season typically peaks between December and February. It takes about two weeks after receiving a flu vaccination for protection to set in, so while vaccinations are recommended for most individuals over 6 months of age throughout the flu season, now is the perfect time to get vaccinated.

"Lafayette High School, home of the Academy of Health Careers, is honored to partner with LDH to promote flu vaccination," Lafayette High School Principal Dr. Donald Thornton said. "Students that are sick and have extended absences tend to fall behind academically. It is important for students to eat right, get plenty of rest and stay current on all vaccinations."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that flu activity is currently low in the United States, but there have been reports of some early outbreaks. Louisiana is reporting only sporadic flu activity at this time.

Individuals can help stop the spread of the flu virus by developing healthy habits in addition to getting vaccinated, including coughing and sneezing into your sleeve or a tissue, washing your hands with soap and water, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoiding contact with sick people whenever possible. If you do get sick with the flu, it's important to stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone and limit contact with others.

Flu infections can lead to hospitalization and death. Children, older persons and individuals with chronic health conditions are at the most risk for complications related to the flu. LDH and the CDC recommend an annual flu vaccination for anyone 6 months of age and older without a medical condition that prevents him or her from receiving one. Individuals with concerns over vaccination should talk to their medical providers.

"Vaccinations are especially important for the families and caretakers of children who are too young to be vaccinated," LDH Region 4 Medical Director Dr. Tina Stefanski said. "Vaccines grant others in the family the immunity they need to care for these children safely.The same applies to those caring for other individuals at risk for flu-related complications."

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents.To learn more about LDH, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's Twitter account and Facebook.