BATON ROUGE, La. – As Louisianians get ready to let the good times roll for the first Mardi Gras celebration since 2020, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana shares tips to help everyone stay healthy this Carnival season.
Beads and throws are not the only thing you can catch along the parade routes. COVID-19, the flu and other respiratory illnesses can spread easily when people gather, especially with others outside of their households. Use these tips to have a happy, healthy Mardi Gras:
Get your COVID-19 vaccine and booster. Health officials recommend everyone age 5 and older gets the COVID-19 vaccine and that anyone age 12 or older gets a COVID-19 vaccine booster. The vaccines are safe and effective at preventing death, hospitalization or severe illness from COVID-19. The booster enhances the protection you get from the original COVID-19 vaccine so your immune system stays ready to recognize and fight off the virus. It takes two weeks for immunity to build up after receiving a vaccine. You may want to skip the large Mardi Gras crowds and celebrate at home if you are not fully vaccinated yet. You are responsible for following all city, local and business requirements around showing proof of vaccine status for entry. Make sure to keep your vaccine card, a picture of your vaccine card or your LA Wallet digital card handy in case you need to show proof of your vaccine status to go into an event or venue.
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.
Wear a mask in crowded, public places. Even if you are vaccinated, wearing a mask around large groups of people, especially indoors, helps stop the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. This is particularly important if you will be around children younger than five or other people who cannot get the COVID-19 vaccine. You must follow all city, local and business mask mandates in effect.
Gather with only people in your household. Social distancing is still important to prevent getting or spreading illnesses to others. Avoid crowded areas and events. Along the parade route, try to find a less-crowded area and keep your distance from other groups.
If you or your family members feel sick, stay home. If you or anyone in your household has symptoms like sore throat, runny nose, coughing, congestion, fever, vomiting or diarrhea, do not go to gatherings, parades and events. Get in touch with your health care provider as soon as possible to ask about treatment.
Get care anywhere with BlueCare. If you start feeling ill, finding an open clinic near a parade where you can be treated might be challenging. Telehealth can be a good option. Blue Cross members can sign up for BlueCare, which lets you have online doctor visits 24/7. BlueCare doctors are available in all 50 states, so if you or someone covered on your health plan gets sick while traveling for the Mardi Gras holiday, you can use this service. BlueCare and other telehealth programs are effective for treating routine illnesses like cough and cold, stomach viruses, pink eye, bladder infections, rashes or allergies. BlueCare doctors can give you a prescription or refill for medication to treat most health needs. To sign up for BlueCare, go to www.BlueCareLA.com or get the BlueCare – that’s one word – app for Android and Apple devices. Then, you’ll be ready to click when you’re sick, at home or on the road.
Blue Cross also reminds Mardi Gras participants to follow the more traditional carnival season health tips:
• Drink responsibly. Be mindful of how many alcoholic beverages you’re consuming. Never drink and drive. This includes riding bikes, golf carts or other vehicles.
• Stay hydrated. Make sure you’re drinking enough water. Bring water or fillable bottles with you if you’ll be out on the route for long periods of time. If you’re drinking alcohol, alternate with water.
• Enjoy seasonal favorites in moderation. The average slice of king cake has about 250 calories, so enjoy this and other Mardi Gras treats in moderation. That way, you won’t undo the hard work you’ve put into your New Year’s resolutions.
• Be careful near floats. Floats are moving vehicles, and once rolling, they cannot stop quickly. Don’t bend over in front of the vehicles or the floats to pick up throws. Don't run between the floats, and make sure children keep a safe distance from them.
• Watch for throws. It’s important to be on the lookout for beads, doubloons and other throws coming at you. Try to avoid being hit in the face or head, and watch out for larger, heavier objects. Never throw anything at riders on floats.
• Secure ladders. If you're using a ladder for children, make sure it is far enough away from the curb that it can be secured. Check the local regulations for the area where you’re watching the parade, as there are often requirements for how far back ladders must be from the curb. Never leave children unattended in a ladder; make sure an adult is with them and watching at all times.
Pedal to the Parade
To avoid the Mardi Gras traffic and get a little exercise, use Blue Bikes to get to and from the parade routes and gatherings. To ride Blue Bikes, download the Blue Bikes Nola app, which is available in the App Store and Google Play. You can choose from different ridership plans and payment options.
For more information on Blue Bikes, visit BlueBikesNOLA.com or follow Blue Bikes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @BlueBikesNOLA.
About one-fifth of Blue Bikes have a king cake baby hidden within their design. Through March 4, riders who find the baby on a bike and post photos on social media tagging Blue Bikes (@BlueBikesNOLA) and using the hashtag #SearchingForBabyBlue will be entered to win a one-year Blue Bikes membership ($300 value). Just like you need to look before you bite into that slice of king cake, check the whole bike before you ride – babies are featured in different places on the bikes, and some are harder to spot than others.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos with the clinical team and others discussing health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA for regular updates.
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.