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Flu outbreak has people scrambling to get their free flu shot - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Flu outbreak has people scrambling to get their free flu shot

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LAFAYETTE -

With one of the worst cases in nearly a decade, Louisiana is hoping to stop the spread of the flu.

"It does have a sense of urgency that I would not normally feel. I mean, over the years, some years, we've gotten the shot, and others, we haven't, and our insurance doesn't cover our shots, so there were cost concerns with that," said Karin Hebert, who went to get free flu shots with her son Oliver at the Lafayette Public Health Office.

The Louisiana Department of Health offered free flu vaccines at more than 55 parish health units across the state on Wednesday.

Usually, peak flu season lasts until late February, but health officials worry the season could last longer.

"Louisiana has been really hard hit. This flu season, we expect to see up to about 8,000 cases of the flu and could see as many as 700 deaths in the state of Louisiana from the flu, and nationally, we're seeing more pediatric deaths than we have in previous years," said the Regional Medical Director of the Lafayette Public Health Office, Dr. Tina Stefanski.

And the rush Wednesday was so large that nursing students were called in to help.

"It's definitely been very interesting, to say the least. You know, you learn about things textbook, but then when you actually see the manifestations of it and how it impacts everyday lives and everyday people, you really get that full understanding of how, as a nurse and as a nursing student, you can help impact your community," said UL nursing student Candice Kidd.

The flu is most dangerous for people over the age of 50, as well as children. The strand, H3N2, that's going around now, is even more dangerous than others.

"I don't usually get [the] flu shot, but I hear it's one of the worst outbreaks in many years, and I just thought I'd come in and get some immunization and try not to catch the flu," said Blane Breaux.

And when Oliver Hebert, a little boy, finished up his shot, he came out of the room wearing a new Minions sticker. When asked if he was happy about the shot, he shrugged, "Mhm, yeah."

"This particular strand, that is circulating and has been circulating over the last several weeks, is a strand that causes more serious illness than others. So, we really want to stop the spread of the flu, and the best way to do that is to ensure that you have a great vaccinated community," said Dr. Stefanski.

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