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Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

BATONROUGE, La. -- Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals says an eight-year-old child in the Shreveport area has died of complications from the H1N1 flu; it's the same type of flu that killed a local middle-aged man last summer.

So doctors say it's important you get the vaccine now.

The flu is hitting Louisiana harder and sooner this season. The strain that's prevalent is H1N1, also known as the swine flu. And it's causing more serious problems for those who might not suspect they are at risk.

'Younger adults, for people who are overweight and for pregnant women and sometimes people with no medical problems. That is something that's different than more seasonal flu where we see more hospitalizations most commonly in small children and in the elderly. This year we're seeing people who are young and otherwise healthy that end up very sick and in the hospitals,' said Tulane infectious disease specialist Dr. Nicholas Van Sickels.

Family Medicine physician Dr. Pamela Wiseman had to miss work at the Daughters of Charity Health Center, Uptown.

'I was out for two days from work with the flu. I could have been out for two weeks if I hadn't gotten the shot,' said Dr. Wiseman, a Tulane family medicine doctor who practices at the Daughters of Charity Health Center on Carrollton and Earhart.

She didn't feel 100 percent for a while.

'I was very fatigued and tired. I have a constant cough. These are things that can take a week or two weeks to get better,' Dr. Wiseman explained.

You can still get the flu if you had the vaccine, but it will keep you from more serious complications. Those complications kill tens of thousands of patients a year.

'We're definitely seeing more hospitalizations from younger people at Tulane University Hospital, where we work, this year,' added Dr. Sickels.

It's not too late to get the vaccine. The tiny stick is nothing compared to the flu.

'I had the flu last year and know how miserable it can be,' said local businessman Patrick Ashton, who got his vaccine yesterday.

'It was absolutely awful. I had it for about three, four weeks and you just still just feel so run down afterwards. It just takes a while to get your energy back,' said Thaya McGonigal who also got her vaccine yesterday after remembering her case from last year.

You can not get the flu from the vaccine. It takes two weeks to build up full immunity or protection. So doctors say get it now.

With Mardi Gras crowds coming in, flu cases could go higher. It is spread by droplets in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

And more seriously, a study found that pregnant women who get the flu, increase the risk fourfold, of the unborn child having the mental illness of Bipolar disorder later in life.

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