BATON ROUGE, La. – Flu season is here. 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 as winter months approach.
“Our focus has been on COVID-19 and the fourth surge, but we can’t let our guard down against the flu,” said Dr. Larry Simon, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana medical director. “It can be easy to forget about the flu because it is more familiar and more routine to us than COVID-19, but it remains a significant health risk. It’s important to get your flu shot so that we can prevent serious illnesses and avoid further overwhelming our health system.”
Like COVID-19, the flu, or influenza virus, is a respiratory illness that can cause death, hospitalization or severe outcomes, Dr. Simon added. Flu cases typically appear in early fall, and flu season lasts until spring, sometimes stretching as late as April or May, he said.
“Getting your flu shot in October helps your body build up immunity before the peak of flu season, which is in wintertime, so you’ll have solid protection,” Dr. Simon said. “The holiday season and colder weather are a few weeks away. That’s when people are more likely to be gathered indoors, which makes it easier to spread illnesses. So, by the time Halloween gets here, make sure you’ve gotten your flu shot.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months of age and older get a flu shot. 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.
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. “If you do need to have the shots 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.