Flu outbreak thwarts coronavirus as a threat to residents of south Louisiana, according to CDC
Thousands of people have been infected with the deadly coronavirus, but in Louisiana, the biggest threat is not coronavirus or even the recent outbreak of norovirus; it is the flu. In 2019, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) ranked Louisiana as the state with the worst flu outbreak. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, “Every year, there are about 500 deaths and nearly 3,000 hospitalizations in Louisiana due to the flu. Many are preventable simply by getting a flu shot.”
Dr. Tina Stefanski, regional medical director for the office of public health in Acadiana, said, “We’re still experiencing high flu activity in Acadiana. Higher activity than Baton Rouge or Lake Charles.” She also said, for the first time this season, they are seeing influenza strain A as the predominate flu circulating in the community. They are still seeing type B, but A is the predominate strain currently. Type B was not covered too well in the vaccine, but type A is covered with the vaccine. “We encourage people who have not been vaccinated to get vaccinated.
Despite the serious outbreaks and even death, there are people who refuse to take the flu shot. Many people think they can get the flu from the flu shot, but that is inaccurate. Dr. Eric Griggs, State of Louisiana Health & Wellness Ambassador, said “It’s called herd immunity. I get my flu shot so that if I’m exposed, I won’t give it to you. The flu shot doesn’t actually give you the flu. There’s a myth that ‘Oh, the flu shot made me sick.’ No. What happens is when you get your flu shot, it’s not a virus. They take a piece of it. It’s dead and they give it to you so your body can mount a response. It’s like going to practice. It’s a dress rehearsal.” Dr. Stefanski agrees, you cannot get the flu from the vaccine.
Sometimes people can get sick even after receiving the flu vaccine. According to the CDC, one reason is some other respiratory viruses can have affects similar to the flu, but “the flu vaccine only protects against influenza, not other illnesses.”
Another explanation is sometimes one can contract the virus before getting the vaccine, or they can contract it after receiving the vaccine when the body is still developing immunity. It can take up to two weeks for the body to work with the vaccine.
Another reason some people may experience flu like symptoms despite getting vaccinated is because they might have simply contracted a different strain of influenza from the one the vaccine is designed to protect against. The CDC says, “The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the similarity or ‘match’ between the viruses selected to make the vaccine and those spreading and causing illness. There are many different flu viruses that spread and cause illness among people.”
While the flu vaccine may not prevent all strains of influenza, it does protect against the most common forms. Receiving the vaccine each year prevents millions of people from getting sick. “For example, during 2017-2018, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 6.2 million influenza illnesses, 3.2 million influenza-associated medical visits, 91,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 5,700 influenza-associated deaths,” according to the CDC.
Babies under six months old should not receive the flu vaccine, and neither should people with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine. This might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients, according to the CDC. By most of the public getting the flu vaccine (herd immunity), it protects the most vulnerable people from contracting the flu.