Don’t Get the Flu for Christmas – Get Vaccinated by December 10

According to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, Louisiana had already experienced a “high” outbreak of influenza (flu) prior to December. Ochsner Primary Care physician Michelle Becnel, M.D. (8150 Jefferson Hwy., Baton Rouge), says that the number of flu cases is only expected to rise. “With so many people getting together for family gatherings, holiday parties and shopping, the flu tends to spread much easier. Because of this, flu activity usually peaks between December and February.”

We often cross paths with people that may be at higher risk of getting or spreading the flu. Protecting the health and well-being of our family, friends and co-workers is a responsibility shared by everyone. The best way to receive this protection is to get the flu vaccine (shot) every year.

Who should get the flu shot?

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.
  • If you are age 65 or older, make sure to request the High-Dose vaccine which is specifically designed for seniors who often have weaker immune defenses.
  • If you have an egg allergy, an egg-free flu vaccine is available, but this vaccine should be received in a medical setting and be supervised by a health care provider.

It takes up to 14 days after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body. For this reason, a flu shot should be received no later than December 10 to lessen your risk in time for Christmas. Getting the shot later can still be beneficial and vaccination can occur throughout flu season, even into January or later.

Tips to avoid contracting and/or spreading the flu virus.

  • Get a flu shot.
  • Wash your hands – A LOT. By washing your hands, you reduce the spread of germs to yourself and others.
  • If you are sick, stay home from work, school or holiday gatherings.

Since 2010, CDC estimates that flu has resulted in between 140,000 and 960,000 hospitalizations each year. CDC estimates that from 2010-2011 to 2017-2018, influenza-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of 12,000 (during 2011-2012) to a high of 79,000 (during 2017-2018).

Flu Shot FACTS

  • You can’t get the flu from the flu shot. The shot contains a “dead” (inactive) virus that will not come back to life. There is no such thing as the zombie flu!
  • Make sure you receive the quadrivalent flu vaccine. It is designed to protect against four different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.
  • It’s possible to get the flu even if you received the shot. However, in most cases, the symptoms are usually milder compared to people who didn’t receive the shot.
  • There is no medical evidence to support the theory that if you’ve never gotten the flu then you shouldn’t get the flu shot.

For more information, visit the CDC flu website. To schedule an appointment with an Ochsner practitioner, call 225-761-5200 or visit www.Ochsner.org/info to schedule online.

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About Ochsner Medical Center - Baton Rouge

The Greater Baton Rouge region is home to Ochsner Medical Center - Baton Rouge, a full-service, 150-bed facility and 13 Ochsner Health Centers across Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston and Tangipahoa Parishes – including Ochsner Cancer Center – Baton Rouge. Nearly 2,000 employees serve our patients in the Greater Baton Rouge area, including more than 180 physicians and Advanced Practice Providers whose collective dedication to patient care is recognized for quality excellence by Becker’s Hospital Review, Healthgrades, Truven Health Analytics and Leapfrog. Ochsner Baton Rouge is a part of Ochsner Health System, Louisiana’s largest non-profit healthcare delivery system. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital nationally recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a “Best Hospital” across three specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and 60 countries worldwide each year. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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