The CDC says Louisiana is among the states with the highest levels of flu activity so far this season. Because of this, the Louisiana Department of Health is encouraging people to not delay in getting a flu shot.
The flu vaccine is readily available for both children and adults throughout the state at healthcare providers and community pharmacies. In addition, the Louisiana Department of Health is making flu shots available at parish health units to allow people an easy way to get flu shots at no cost to the patient.
A special one-day flu shot promotion will be held Thursday, December 13 from 2 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
A full list of sites that all be offering the flu shot can be found here. Just click on your area of the state to see the participating vaccination sites.
“At the parish health units, we have extended the evening hours to better allow people to get their shot after they leave school or work,” said Dr. Frank Welch, immunization director for the Louisiana Department of Health.
The flu causes approximately 500 deaths and nearly 3,000 hospitalizations each year in Louisiana. However, in Louisiana last year, there were more than 15,000 hospitalizations and more than 1,600 deaths from the flu. Of those more than 1,600 deaths, five were pediatric deaths.
“In terms of flu seasons, the last one was very severe. Now is the time to get a flu shot and protect yourself from a serious illness,” said Dr. Welch. “Although a flu shot is never 100 percent effective, a vaccination is the best way to prevent getting sick from the flu and getting serious complications.
The Louisiana Department of Health offers these reminders to help keep people from spreading the flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you have cold symptoms or have fever greater than 100.3, stay away from others until you have not had a fever for 24 hours.
- Call your doctor immediately to see if an antiviral medication is appropriate for you.
- If you are sick, do not visit vulnerable loved ones who may be receiving care in a hospital, nursing home, cancer center or other setting.
- If you are sick, do not kiss babies, pregnant women, grandparents and others who may be at a higher risk of getting sick.
- Cover your cough and sneeze.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
- These community flu clinics are open to the public, and walk-ups are welcome. Wear short or loose-fitting sleeves.
The shots at the parish health units on Dec. 13 are no cost to everyone who participates. If you have insurance, bring your insurance information with you as your insurance will be billed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Louisiana Department of Heath recommend a yearly flu shot for everyone over six 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.
Visit www.ldh.la.gov/fighttheflu for more information and resources.
While receiving your flu shot, inquire about other vaccinations that you may need.