NEWS

Seasonal flu vaccine available for high-risk groups

Staff reports

Louisianians at high-risk for seasonal flu will be able to receive their seasonal flu shots at parish health units beginning next week.

The Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) will distribute approximately 60,000 doses of seasonal flu vaccine across the state in the coming months, with health units receiving and distributing a proportionate share based on the number of high-risk residents each unit serves.

DHH's Immunization Program has already distributed approximately 40,000 seasonal flu vaccines to nursing homes statewide and has been providing seasonal flu vaccines to Vaccines for Children providers for the past few weeks.

"It is especially important that everyone get a seasonal flu vaccination this year with the double threat of seasonal flu and H1N1 flu," said DHH Secretary Alan Levine. "It protects those who are vulnerable, and also protects our community by reducing spread. This will not only keep our people healthier, but will also ease pressure on hospitals and private providers this flu season."

"Most people receive the seasonal flu vaccination through private providers, including pharmacists,” said State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry, M.D. “Seasonal flu doses administered by parish health units are made available especially for residents in high-risk groups that would not otherwise have access to the vaccine. These groups are at the greatest medical risk of influenza complications."

The high-risk groups for seasonal flu vaccination include children ages 6 months through 18 years; people 65 years and older; adults and children with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders; children who are residents of chronic care facilities, and pregnant Women

The seasonal flu vaccine is also recommended for people who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including health care workers, household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu, and household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated). Parish health units only serve high-risk populations, not all populations that the seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for. We encourage these other target groups to get vaccinated at their private provider or a community pharmacy.

More information on flu activity in Louisiana, including guidance for families and medical professionals, is available at  www.FighttheFluLA.com.