Protect your family from that ‘other’ virus: Now is the time for flu shots

With so much attention on the coronavirus, it might be easy to overlook flu season or to forget the threat it poses.

But the flu is already making its way to Louisiana, and protecting your family from it is as important as ever. The coronavirus and influenza share some of the same symptoms, and both can be deadly to those who are medically vulnerable.

Since 2010, influenza has taken an estimated 61,000 lives in the United States and caused 810,000 hospitalizations, according to data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

But unlike with coronavirus—for which there is not yet a safe vaccine—we have many years of experience with flu vaccines, which are customized to match the influenza virus’s natural mutations. A flu shot is the safest, most reliable way to protect your family against the flu.

“Even if the vaccine isn’t 100% effective, it can shorten the illness and lessen the symptoms,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal, chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake and an infectious disease specialist.

Our Lady of the Lake has made it easier and more convenient than ever to get a flu shot. One option is to schedule an appointment in the MyChart app.

If you’re pressed for time, you can visit one of these clinics offering flu shots to walk-ins or via drive-thru.

But don’t stop there. Dr. O’Neal recommends taking these additional precautions and steps:

If you feel unwell, stay home. We no longer have the luxury of “working through” illness, or reporting to work when we don’t feel well. The risks are simply too great. The coronavirus is most contagious in its early stages, so it’s crucial to keep your distance from others when you don’t feel well or you risk infecting others. At the first sign of illness, go home from work or school and stay home. Also, call your doctor to find out if you need an appointment, or a flu or COVID test.

Don’t let your mask down. Wearing masks and social distancing have proven to be effective at slowing or preventing the spread of coronavirus. The good news is masking, social distancing and regular hand washing can help protect your family from the flu as well, so double-down on those safety measures.

Click here for more tips and information about protecting your family.