BATON ROUGE, La. – The holiday season is coming up, and health officials recommend giving the gift of COVID-19 protection by getting the vaccine or booster.
“Thanks to the COVID-19-vaccines, many of us will be able to gather with our extended family and friends to celebrate the holidays, which is a very positive change from last year,” said Dr. Deirdre Barfield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana senior medical director. “The vaccines are available to anyone age 5 and older, and health officials recommend anyone 18 or older may get a booster shot. If you have not gotten your vaccine or booster, make plans to do it now so you’ll have the most protection possible as festivities get underway.”
The winter months are also the peak time for respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, the flu and colds, Dr. Barfield added. “In addition to getting the vaccine, we need to keep doing the things we’ve gotten familiar with that we know stop the spread – stay six feet apart from others in public places, wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth if you’re in crowded, indoor areas, and wash your hands often,” she said. “That’s especially important if you have children younger than 5 or other family members who can’t get the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Blue Cross encourages Louisianians to enjoy the spirit of the season while taking precautions to lower their risks of spreading COVID-19 and other infectious diseases:
• Get the Vax. Health officials recommend everyone age 5 and older gets the COVID-19 vaccine and that anyone age 18 or older may get a COVID-19 vaccine booster. The vaccines are safe and effective at preventing death, hospitalization or severe illness from COVID-19. Call the State of Louisiana’s Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 or visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s website for help scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine or booster appointment. Blue Cross covers the COVID-19 vaccine or booster at $0 for eligible members of individual or employer health plans.
• Don’t forget your flu shot. Flu season begins in the fall and can last as late as April or May. If you have not gotten a flu shot this year, do it now for peak protection during the winter months. Flu shots are widely available at pharmacies, clinics and doctors’ offices statewide. Anyone six months or older can get a flu shot. Most health plans, Medicare and Medicaid plans cover flu shots at very low or no cost.
• Outdoor events are safer than indoor ones. Stick to activities you can do outside like enjoying meals outdoors, visiting outdoor decoration displays or walking to see holiday lights in your neighborhood. Do these activities with small groups of people, preferably those who are part of your household. And, keep six feet between yourself and others.
• Wear face masks to protect children younger than 5 and others who cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine. The face mask should fit snugly and cover your nose and mouth. Masking is especially important if you’re attending indoor events, where there is a higher risk for diseases to spread. Health officials recommend that even if you’re vaccinated, you wear a face mask in crowded places.
• Stay home if you’re feeling sick. If you or your children have symptoms like coughing, runny nose, fever, sore throat, upset stomach or diarrhea, do not go to events, and do not invite others to gather at your home. Contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see the Holiday Health playlist, featuring 10 short videos with members of the insurer’s in-house clinical team, including dietitians, social workers and physicians. Learn how to eat mindfully during the holidays, manage stress and stay focused on health and wellness. Subscribe to know when new videos are added.
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.