BATON ROUGE- The Louisiana Department of Health announced today the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine is now available to anyone in the general public. Interested residents should call their provider to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine, and can view public providers of the vaccine on the H1N1 flu shot locator

The vaccine has been available since October solely to specific target groups at highest risk for complications from the H1N1 flu, in accordance with guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To date, more than 276,000 doses of H1N1 flu vaccine have been administered across the state.

The vaccine is available at no cost from the federal government, but a patient may be charged a small administrative fee for the office time used, which is usually around $20. Most insurance companies have agreed to cover this fee, including Medicaid and Medicare.

The department estimates that about 216,000 people statewide have contracted the H1N1 flu since it was first discovered in April. This is an estimate of the number of cases seen by health care providers in physicians' offices, urgent care and hospital outpatient offices, and hospital emergency departments.

Flu activity is expected to continue for months, caused by either H1N1 or regular seasonal flu viruses, although levels of activity are expected to vary during the season. The future is uncertain in terms of influenza activity, and federal and state health officials note that it's important not to be complacent about the ongoing risk. Officials also emphasize that this time of lowered activity presents a window of opportunity for residents to get vaccinated before the start of our normal flu season.

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 2009 H1N1 virus. For more information on flu activity in Louisiana, including guidance for families and medical professionals, visit or follow the campaign

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 citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit