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Wednesday, January 29, 2020



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Aggressive flu season means you should get your flu shot!

Aggressive flu season means you should get your flu shot!


Protect yourself. Protect your loved ones. Stop the spread.

BATON ROUGE, La. — With Louisiana continuing to rank among the highest rates of influenza cases in the country, health officials urge people to get the flu shot before they get sick.

This health advice takes on further importance given a recent study showing 37% of adults in the U.S. still intend not to get a flu shot. The study was conducted by researchers at NORC at the University of Chicago.

Louisiana began seeing increased levels of flu activity in late August and currently, the Louisiana Department of Health reports that flu activity is widespread in the state, with almost three times as much activity as the regional baseline.

Dr. Frank Welch, immunization medical director for the Office of Public Health, said reports from clinicians throughout Louisiana suggest only 25% of healthy adults in the state have gotten a flu shot this year.

“This year’s flu season began in October, much sooner than expected. It’s only December now and we’re already close to matching the peak of last year’s flu season, which was one of the worst in years, and the end of flu season is months and months away,” Dr. Welch said. “Protect yourself and your loved ones as you gather for the holidays by getting your flu shot.”

Flu shots are available at any parish health unit throughout flu season at no cost to the patient. Local pharmacies, clinics, doctors’ offices and federally qualified (community) health centers also will offer flu shots throughout the season. Check ldh.la.gov/fighttheflu for a flu shot provider near you.

During the 2018-2019 flu season, there were approximately 15,000 to 16,000 hospitalizations and 1,550 deaths in Louisiana.

Teach your body what to do and vaccinate against the flu.

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 a 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 settings.

- 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.

A flu vaccine is the first and best way to reduce your chances of getting the flu and spreading it to others. The CDC and Department of Health recommend a yearly flu shot for everyone over 6 months of age who does not have a complicating condition, such as a prior allergic reaction to the flu shot. It 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 vaccine cannot cause flu. The vaccines either contain inactivated virus, meaning the viruses are no longer infectious, or a particle designed to look like a flu virus to your immune system. While the nasal spray flu vaccine does contain a live virus, the viruses are changed so that they cannot give you the flu.

Like any medical product, vaccines can cause side effects. Side effects of the flu vaccine are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days.

The flu shot starts to offer partial protection immediately but takes about two weeks to offer full protection.

Visit ldh.la.gov/fighttheflu for more information and resources.