As flu cases and hopsitalizations continue to rise in the Southeast, the Louisiana Department of Health is urging the public to get the flu vacccine to ensure protection during peak flu season and the approaching holidays.
As of Nov. 14. flu activity in Louisiana has reached its highest point in the last five years, according to the LDH news release. Reports to the LDH’s Office of Public Health show nearly 10.5 percent of patient visits were due to flu-like illness. That is nearly twice the national average of 5.5 percent.
So far this flu season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated at least 2.8 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 1,300 deaths from flu.
The CDC recommends individuals be vaccinated as soon as possible for peak protection. The flu season in Louisiana typically begins to increase in October and peak between the holidays and Mardi Gras.
Symptoms of the flu include:
- Sudden onset of body aches,
- Fever greater than 100.3, and
- Cough and/or sore throat
According to State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter, a yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Washing your hands frequently and staying away from others if you are sick can also help reduce viral transmission.
“Everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu shot,” Kanter said. “The vaccine is especially important for young children. Since 2004-2005, flu-related deaths in children have ranged from 37 deaths to 199 deaths each year in the U.S., and approximately 80% of pediatric flu deaths occurred in children who did not get a flu shot.”
There have been five pediatric deaths associatied with the flu in the United States this year
You can find COVID-19 and flu vaccines near you by visiting vaccines.gov.