NEW ORLEANS — You may have noticed around town that some local pharmacies have already gotten the flu vaccine in.
Doctors are saying this year is not the year to skip getting one, or stop wearing a mask.
It's that time of year. Time to get a flu vaccine.
Some places like NOLA Discount Pharmacy already have doses in stock, so I along with photographer Steve Wolfram rolled up our sleeves for Khanh the pharmacist. While it is important to get the vaccine every year to prevent serious complications, hospitalizations and even death, this is not just any year.
“We're going to have a fall and a winter where we're going to have co-circulation of viruses that can cause illnesses that look very similar,” said LSU's Health Sciences Center Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Fred Lopez.
He says you can contract both influenza and coronaviruses. “So why not take one out of the equation, which is the flu virus, by getting vaccinated.”
That's important, because each year only half of us in the U.S. get the vaccine. Our peak season in southeast Louisiana is Thanksgiving to Mardi Gras, but the entire season is September through May and it takes two weeks, after you get the shot, to get maximum protection. So it's not too early to get one. Adults get one dose per year while children may need two spaced apart.
“Anyone six months of age or older should receive the flu vaccine in order to prevent complications of any kind.” Said Dr. Lopez.
Wearing masks, physical distancing, hand washing and avoiding large indoor gatherings because of the coronavirus, may be the reason Australia is having a less active flu season now.
“So I would anticipate, if we do continue to practice these interventions, that we will make an impact on the cases of flu as well as COVID-19,” Dr. Lopez said.
A flu vaccine is not only for your health, it's for the safety of the entire community and not overwhelming the health care workers and hospitals with sick people from two viruses.
Another reason to get a flu vaccine now is in case later, the supply runs out.