With flu season beginning in Louisiana and COVID-19 remaining widespread across the state, now is the time to get your annual flu shot. The Office of Public Health has scheduled community vaccination flu clinics in the coming weeks across the state to help protect as many Louisianans as possible.
Flu shots are offered at no cost at these clinics. If you have private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, please bring your card. Your insurance will be billed. Individuals receiving a flu shot should wear a mask in the facility.
“With our second flu season coming in amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we truly do not know what to expect. We know that we have the tools at hand to protect against both the flu and COVID, but it takes us working together to utilize them to their fullest potential. Flu vaccines will not prevent COVID-19, but we know they can prevent doctors’ visits and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization and even death," said State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that it is safe, effective and efficient for people to get their flu shots at the same time as they are receiving their COVID-19 vaccination or booster doses. Currently, the CDC reports that nearly 46% of Louisianans are fully vaccinated against COVID and 52%, more than 2.4 million people, have taken at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.
The flu shot is currently widely available at doctor’s offices, pharmacies and parish health units. Also, the Office of Public Health has scheduled special flu vaccination clinics in the coming weeks.
Dr. Kanter said, “We want to see everyone over the age of 6 months get their flu shot before the end of October. We know people spend more time indoors during the holidays, which are not too far away. It takes time for your body to respond to the vaccine, so we want that flu shot to begin working as soon as possible.”
Stop the spread
The everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of flu are the same as those that help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you are sick, stay home and limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause flu.
- CDC and LDH recommend a yearly flu shot for everyone over 6 months of age who does not have a complicating condition, such as a prior allergic reaction to the flu shot.
- A flu shot is especially crucial for people who may be at higher risk for serious complications. This includes babies and young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions and people 65 years and older.
- The flu shot is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, who can pass on antibodies to their babies that will help protect them.
- The flu shot starts to offer partial protection immediately, but takes about two weeks to offer full protection.
- Most seasonal flu activity occurs between October and May, and typically peaks between December and February.
- Last year in Louisiana, the flu was associated with more than 15,000 hospitalizations, more than 1,600 deaths and 5 pediatric deaths all due to the flu.
- Influenza is especially serious in long-term care facilities (nursing homes). Severe and even fatal illness can be introduced by healthcare workers, visitors and newly admitted residents.
- The flu has a tremendous impact on school attendance and on the families of school children.
- An estimated 28% of school-aged children get influenza each year.
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