2023-24 Flu MessagingTake time to get a flu shot.
- During the fall and the early winter, it is important to have gotten your flu shot. People tend to spend more time indoors as it gets colder and during the holidays, which makes it much easier to spread the flu.
- A yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Getting a flu vaccine this flu season is an important step to stay healthy.
- Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu shot.
- Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu.
- The flu shot can prevent serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization and even death.
- The flu vaccine not only protects you, but it also can help protect those around you.
- Don’t forget to keep up with your COVID-19 shots. It is fine to get both your flu shot and your COVID-19 shot at the same time. There is no spacing needed between the two vaccinations.
The Flu in Louisiana
- For the past seven flu season, we have seen the following impact in Louisiana:
- 2013-2014: 474,000 cases, 5,500 hospitalizations, 600 deaths
- 2014-2015: 624,000 cases, 12,200 hospitalizations, 1,100 deaths
- 2015-2016: 442,000 cases, 5,200 hospitalizations, 400 deaths
- 2016-2017: 634,000 cases, 10,900 hospitalizations, 830 deaths
- 2017-2018: 984,000 cases, 18,000 hospitalizations, 1,300 deaths
- 2018-2019: 1,000,000 cases, 14,000 hospitalizations, 1,000 deaths
- 2019-2020: 755,000 cases, 8,000 hospitalizations, 4500 deaths
- The Department of Health has a robust flu tracking system in place where a select number of health practitioners report weekly the number of visits consistent with an influenza-like illness (ILI): fever over 100°F AND cough and/or sore throat.
- These “sentinel” providers collect specimens and send to the state Public Health Laboratory for influenza PCR testing. These results allow us to estimate the state's ILI rate and the magnitude of influenza activity within the state.
- These weekly Influenza Surveillance Reports are posted online at Fight The Flu La
The importance of masking and social distancing
- Last flu season was one of the mildest on record. Some experts attribute this to people taking extra precautions against the COVID-19 virus by staying home as much as possible and wearing a mask when around others.
- Social distancing strategies such as maintaining six feet of distance between others and limiting your visits to crowded places will also reduce your likelihood of getting sick from the flu.
Getting vaccinated against the flu is especially important for some people.
- Flu vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu, including children younger than 5, pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.
The flu shot reduces your risk of getting the flu.
- CDC estimates the 2019–2020 season (considered to be a ‘normal’ season) was moderate with:
- An estimated 38 million people sick with flu,
- 18 million visits to a health care provider for flu,
- 400,000 hospitalizations for flu, and
- 22,000 flu deaths.
- During recent seasons, flu vaccine has reduced the risk of flu illness in vaccinated people by between 40% and 60%.
- The flu shot prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year. For example, last year the flu shot prevented:
- an estimated 7.5 million influenza illnesses,
- 7 million influenza-associated medical visits,
- 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and
- 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.
- While some people who get a flu vaccine still get sick, studies show it can make their illness less severe, such as reduced intensive care unit admissions and duration of hospitalization.
- During the 2019-2020 influenza season, there were 185 influenza-related pediatric deaths reported to CDC. A recent study was the first of its kind to show that influenza vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from the flu.
Flu vaccines have a proven safety record.
- For more than 50 years, hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received seasonal flu vaccines and there has been extensive research supporting its safety.
- Side effects from flu vaccination are generally mild, especially when compared to symptoms of flu.
Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
- 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.
- Continue the social distancing and masking practices that you adopted to protect against COVID-19.
Flu and COVID-19
- The flu is a serious contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. This upcoming flu season, it is likely that flu viruses will spread along with COVID-19.
- Because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to do everything possible to reduce the spread of flu.
- The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.
- Typical signs of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting.
- Most people recover from the flu on their own by drinking plenty of fluids, getting rest, and treating symptoms with over the counter medication, but now, there is a strong recommendation for use of antiviral treatment for anyone suspected of having the flu.
- Antiviral drugs can make the flu illness milder and shorten the time a person is sick. Antiviral drugs may prevent serious flu complications and/or even death.
- The Louisiana Department of Health encourages everyone to stay at home for at least 24 hours after all symptoms subside, unless seeking medical care.
- Flu vaccination is strongly recommended and is now readily available for both children and adults at healthcare providers, parish health units and community pharmacies. Get vaccinated today!
- Routine annual vaccination is still the best way to prevent getting sick from the flu. Annual flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone 6 months and older who do not have contraindications.
- Even with vaccine effectiveness in the range of 40 to 60 percent, vaccination protects from 4 circulating strains and is the best way to prevent illness and serious complications from the flu.
- While flu vaccine is not perfect and some people who get vaccinated may still get the flu, there is data to suggest that vaccination may make illness milder.
- Getting vaccinated yourself protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, including babies and young children under 6 months who cannot be vaccinated, the elderly, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
- Vaccination is also important for health care workers and other people who live with or care for high-risk individuals.
- The flu vaccination is also being offered in the form of a shot or a nasal spray.
- The live, attenuated vaccine, known as the “the spray,” is recommended for healthy people age two through 49 years of age who are not pregnant and do not have chronic illnesses. Be sure to consult your physician before getting vaccinated with the spray.
- Inactivated influenza vaccine, or injection, known as “the shot,” is recommended for everyone six months of age and older.
- All vaccines should be given in settings in which both personnel and equipment for the rapid recognition and treatment of anaphylaxis are available.
- Flu vaccines have been given for more than 50 years, and they have a very good safety track record. Flu vaccines are made the same way each year, and their safety is closely monitored by the CDC and the FDA. Hundreds of millions of flu vaccines have been given safely.
- Studies prove that the flu vaccination significantly reduces a child’s risk of dying from influenza.
- Adults aged > 65 years may receive any age-appropriate standard or high-dose, trivalent or quadrivalent, adjuvanted or unadjuvanted vaccine.
- High-dose vaccine has exhibited superior efficacy over standard-dose vaccine in a large randomized trial, and may provide better protection than the standard dose for this age group.
- However, vaccination should not be delayed to find a particular product if an appropriate one is available.
- Check https://www.vaccines.gov/find-vaccines/ for a flu shot provider near you.
Slowing the Spread of the Flu
- Stay Home if Sick
- Most people who are otherwise healthy and get the flu should stay home and avoid going to work or school for at least 24 hours after symptoms subside. Contact with other people should be avoided unless getting medical care.
- Avoid Getting Sick - by adopting healthy everyday habits:
- Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Practice Social Distancing
- Consider wearing a mask when around others. This is a good strategy to reduce your risk of getting the flu or passing it on to others.
- Maintain at least six feet of distance between others and limiting your visits to crowded places will also reduce your likelihood of getting sick from the flu.
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