BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - “Let’s roll up our sleeves, Louisiana,” said Dr. Courtney Phillips, Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) secretary, Tuesday, Oct. 13 as she got her flu shot at Our Lady of the Lake’s North Baton Rouge Clinic.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is urging Louisiana residents to follow suit and get their flu shots this year. The governor and top health officials with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) say with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to get your annual flu shot to stay healthy and avoid overwhelming the healthcare system. While the vaccine does not prevent COVID-19, it could help prevent you from getting both viruses at once.
“It’s a good idea to get a flu shot every year, but right now, with the ongoing COVID pandemic, getting your flu shot is even more important. We cannot afford to have a serious flu season on top of the pandemic because we will risk overrunning the ability of our hospitals to deliver healthcare,” Gov. Edwards said. “I encourage all Louisianans who can to get their flu shot sooner rather than later. It is quick and readily available all across Louisiana.”
In Louisiana, the flu typically causes 500 deaths and around 3,000 hospitalizations, but in 2019, there were more than 15,000 hospitalizations and more than 1,600 deaths from the flu. Of those deaths, five were children. Everyone ages 6 months and up should get the flu shot by the end of October.
The Office of Public Health will start its annual flu vaccination drives soon. Flu shots will be offered at no cost. Flu shots are also available at numerous pharmacies and doctor’s offices.
“I get my annual flu shot not only to protect myself but also others, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness,” said Dr. Phillips. “Let’s be good neighbors and roll up our sleeves, Louisiana.”
People should follow the same steps they’ve been practicing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the flu as well. Those steps include:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- If you are sick, stay home and limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from 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 spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with viruses that cause flu
The flu shot is particularly important for those who may be at a higher risk for complications due to the flu, such as babies and small children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, and those 65 and older.
Click here for more information about the vaccine and to find a place to get vaccinated near you.
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