As flu season approaches in southeast Louisiana, Dr. Stacy R. Newman of North Oaks Infectious Disease warns of the easily spreading respiratory virus.
While frequent hand washing, maintaining safe physical distancing practices, and covering up coughing or sneezing will reduce the risk, the flu shot is by far the best defense to prevent the flu this season, Newman said. .
âAmid pandemic fatigue, it’s important to remain vigilant against common illnesses, such as the flu, which can dramatically affect our health – while still being largely preventable ailments and illnesses. That’s why I urge anyone who meets the guidelines to get their flu shot every year, âNewman said. âIt’s the best way to prevent the flu. Even if you do catch the flu, having the vaccine on board will not only reduce the severity of your symptoms, but also lower your risk of secondary pneumonia, hospitalization, and other health complications. “
This year, all influenza vaccines in the United States are quadrivalent, providing protection against four strains of the influenza virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most prevalent projections for the 2021-22 season: a influenza A (H1N1), one influenza A (H3N2) virus and two influenza B viruses.
Most health insurance plans are accepted, and many may cover the vaccine as a preventative service for covered family members. To verify acceptance of your plan and preventative service coverage, contact your insurance provider. Self-pay options are available upon request.
Vaccinating people at high risk is especially important to reduce the risk of severe influenza. Immunization is important for healthcare workers, those living with or caring for high-risk individuals, as well as caregivers and those living with infants under six months of age. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also get vaccinated to avoid serious complications from the flu. Vaccination during pregnancy or while breastfeeding can help protect infants during the first months of life (when they are too young to be vaccinated).
Influenza vaccines are not suitable for infants under 6 months of age, people with serious life-threatening allergies to the ingredients in the influenza vaccine, and those who have had a previous severe allergic reaction to a dose of the influenza vaccine.
North Oaks Urgent Care in Hammond, Ponchatoula and Walker offers influenza vaccines for adults and children, ages 6 months and older, including a high dose vaccine for those 65 years of age and older. Walk-in people are welcome at the three emergency care centers between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day of the week. No appointment is necessary.
In addition, Primary Care in North Oaks and some specialty clinics in Hammond, Livingston and Independence administer flu shots by appointment. To locate a participating clinic, visit www.northoaks.org/pcp or call North Oaks Physician Group at (985) 230-APPT (2778) or (844) APPT-NOW (277-8669).