Flu season has arrived and the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) will be hosting a community flu shot clinic in Lafayette on Wednesday, October 27 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Lafayette Parish Health Unit on Willow Street. The LDH says the flu shot is more important than ever this year as COVID-19 remains prevalent statewide.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said it is safe, effective and efficient for people to get their flu shot at the same time they get their COVID-19 vaccination or booster doses. Currently, the CDC reports that 46% of Louisianans are fully vaccinated against COVID and 52%, more than 2.4 million people, have taken at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.
Community influenza and COVID clinics are open to the public and walk-in people are welcome. Wear short or loose sleeves and, if you have them, bring your private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare card. If you cannot attend this event, the flu shot is currently widely available in doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and church health units.
Stop the spread
The daily preventive actions to stop the spread of influenza are the same as those that help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you are sick, stay home and limit contact with others as much as possible to avoid 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 have spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause influenza.
Flu vaccine facts
The CDC and LDH recommend an annual flu shot for anyone over 6 months of age who doesn’t have a complication problem, such as a previous allergic reaction to the flu shot.
The flu shot is especially important for people who are at higher risk of serious complications. This includes babies and toddlers, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, and people 65 years of age and older.
The flu shot is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, who can give their babies antibodies that will help protect them.
The flu shot begins to provide partial protection immediately, but it takes about two weeks to provide full protection.
Most seasonal influenza activity occurs between October and May and typically peaks between December and February.
Last year in Louisiana, influenza was associated with more than 15,000 hospitalizations, more than 1,600 deaths and 5 pediatric deaths, all due to the flu.
Influenza is particularly severe in long-term care facilities (nursing homes). Serious and even fatal illnesses can be introduced by healthcare workers, visitors and newly admitted residents.
The flu has a huge impact on school attendance and on the families of schoolchildren.
It is estimated that 28% of school-aged children contract the flu each year.
For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm for the CDC’s weekly FluView updates. For Louisiana-specific information, visit the LDH Fight the Flu LA webpage for information, resources, weekly reports on influenza activity and more.
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