BATON ROUGE, La. – Halloween is almost here - have you gotten your flu shot? Health officials recommend everyone age six months and older gets a flu shot by the end of October for the best protection from the virus during peak flu season.
“Before you carve pumpkins, buy candy or put the finishing touches on your costume, get your flu shot if you have not done so already,” said Dr. Larry Simon, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana medical director. “Flu season starts in the fall and can last until April or May, with the most cases happening in winter months. Getting your flu shot in October gives you the best protection during that peak, as colder weather means more time indoors, making it easier for the virus to spread.”
The flu, or influenza virus, is a respiratory illness that can cause death, hospitalization or severe outcomes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months of age and older get a flu shot each year. It’s especially important for young children, pregnant women, adults 60+ years old and anyone who has chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease or asthma, as these groups are at a higher risk for severe complications from the flu.
Most health plans, Medicare and Medicaid plans cover the annual flu shot for $0 or very low cost. To find out how the flu shot is covered on your health plan, contact Customer Service at the number on your ID card. The flu shot is widely available at pharmacies, clinics and doctors’ offices statewide.
If you don’t get the flu shot by the end of the month, it’s not too late, Dr. Simon added. “Make plans to get your flu shot as soon as you can,” Dr. Simon said. “October is the ideal time, but getting the shot later can still protect you as we head into those peak flu season months.”
Visit www.bcbsla.com/flu for more information about flu shots. Learn how you can be STRONGER THAN the Flu in this video (0:58).
Flu Shot and COVID-19 Vaccine
In addition to the flu shot, health officials also recommend everyone age 12 and older gets the COVID-19 vaccine for protection heading into winter months. You can call the State of Louisiana’s Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 for help scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. The hotline staff can help you find vaccine locations near you or connect you with clinicians who can answer your vaccine questions. Or, visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s website to see a list of vaccine locations. You can search by parish to find a vaccine site near you, and you can see which types of vaccine are being given at different locations.
“If you need to get the COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot, ask your healthcare provider for guidance about whether you can get both at the same time or if you need to space them apart,” Dr. Simon said. “Generally, health officials have advised that it’s ok to get them at the same time. But, if your provider recommends you get them separately, make your appointments now so you can be protected against both viruses heading into wintertime.”
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on the COVID-19 vaccines and other health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates. Blue Cross posts often on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
For information on what Blue Cross is doing in response to COVID-19, visit www.bcbsla.com/covid19.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past three years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.