We are two weeks away from Christmas Eve, exactly the same time it takes for the flu vaccine to take effect.
The Louisiana Department of Health is encouraging you to get a flu shot, before the holidays. The shot will be free of charge state wide at Parish Health Units Thursday.
The flu causes approximately 500 deaths and nearly 3,000 hospitalizations each year in the state. However, last year that number more than doubled.
“Last year was one of the worst flu seasons we’ve seen in years,”Dr.Tina Stefanski said.
“In the state of Louisiana last year there were an estimated of 15,000 hospitalizations of the flu and 1,600 deaths . Five of those were children.”
Those stats are now the reason why officials are encouraging you to get a flu shot.
According to the LDH Louisiana has one of the highest levels of flu activity this season.
“It’s more serious in people with chronic diseases,” Stefanski said “People who have diabetes, heart problems or cancer.”
She added that the virus could also impact people who are older than 65 or very young children.
Pregnant women and people who have asthma can also be more susceptible to getting the flu.
Besides the shot, you can also prevent the spread of the virus by simply washing your hands and disinfecting areas frequently.
The virus can survive on hard surfaces for about 24 hours and 15 minutes on tissues.
“It takes about 2 weeks for the flu shot to protect you from the flu,” Stefanski said. “When we think about the holiday’s this is really an ideal time to protect yourself before the holidays when we’re around crowds of people.”
The shots will be available from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at parish health units across the state. The health units have extended evening hours to accommodate people leaving work or school.