Louisiana Department of Health to hold flu shot clinic in Livingston Parish

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(The Livingston Parish News) – The Louisiana Department of Health will hold a flu shot clinic in Livingston Parish this week.

The flu vaccination clinic will be held Tuesday, Dec. 1, from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at the Livingston Parish Health Unit, located at 20399 Government Blvd. in the Town of Livingston.

Flu shots are offered at no cost, but people are told to bring their private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare card if they have it. These clinics are drive-thru only, and individuals receiving a flu shot should wear a mask and remain in their vehicles.

Community flu clinics are open to the public, and walk-ups are welcome.

With flu season underway amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, health officials have urged people to get flu shots this year, repeatedly saying “it is more important than ever.” Experts fear that a rough flu season could strain the state’s healthcare system, which has been fighting the COVID-19 outbreak since March.

Last year, the flu led to more than 15,000 hospitalizations in Louisiana, resulting in more than 1,600 deaths, including five pediatric deaths.

As of Monday, more than 220,000 Louisiana residents had contracted the coronavirus, leading to more than 6,100 deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations, which at multiple points have threatened to overrun hospitals, have increased by 723 since Oct. 4 and are at their highest point (1,241) since Aug. 14.

Because the flu and COVID-19, both respiratory illnesses, share symptoms, getting a flu shot is an important part of surviving the winter without unnecessary aches, pains, fevers, and sniffles, and being confident that any that do arise are not from garden-variety influenza, officials have said.

Health experts have also said the same mitigation measures for COVID-19 — wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands frequently, avoiding large crowds, and staying home when sick — work to slow the spread of the flu.

In a statement, health officials also released a list of “flu shot facts,” which include the following:

— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Louisiana Department of Health recommend a yearly flu shot for everyone over 6 months of age.

— 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.

— Most seasonal flu activity occurs between October and May, and typically peaks between December and February.

— Influenza is especially serious in long-term care facilities (nursing homes). Severe and even fatal illness can be introduced by healthcare workers, visitors and newly admitted residents.

— The flu has a tremendous impact on school attendance and on the families of school children. An estimated 28% of school-aged children get influenza each year.

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