It's hard to believe we're already into the official "holiday season," but here we are. And along with frantic shopping, Christmas music starting way too early, and a mad hunt for those elusive turkeys this year, another item on your list needs to be a flu shot.

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Louisiana state health officer Dr. Joseph Kanter says flu activity this year in Louisiana is already twice the national average.

“This is what’s happening here we’ve already exceeded the five-year rate and we’ve no signs of slowing yet,” Kanter said.

I would point out that it's amazing we didn't hear about the flu for two years during the COVID pandemic, but Kanter added that flu rates were lower because people were taking precautions due to COVID. Ok... Regardless of your position on COVID and the COVID vaccine, the flu is real, and you really should schedule your flu shot if you haven't gotten one already.

“We’ve got work to do, getting people caught up on vaccines so we can mitigate as much as possible what is already a very strong flu season,” Kanter said.

Kanter said the current versions of the flu vaccine is up to date and effective at preventing the current strains of flu that is already affecting thousands of Louisiana residents.  Flu vaccines can be administered to anyone six months of age or older. There has already been one pediatric death reported this year in Louisiana.

Even if you don't currently have health insurance, or if you are low on funds, there are several options to get a free flu shot.

“There’s flu vaccine events, flu vaccine fairs throughout the state. They can also go to any of the parish health units,” he said.

If you need more information about how to get your free flu shot, or if you need to find your local health unit, you can visit ldh.la.gov.

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