With COVID-19 and flu on the rise, LDH encourages residents to take precautions ahead of holiday gatherings | La Dept. – Louisiana Department of Health – Louisiana.gov

With COVID-19 cases on the rise and flu at its highest level in five years, the Louisiana Department of Health reminds residents to make sure they and their loved ones are up to date on their vaccines and boosters ahead of holiday gatherings.

On Wednesday, LDH reported 4,453 new COVID-19 cases reported to the state between Monday, November 28 and Sunday, December 4. This is an increase from the 2,651 COVID-19 cases reported last Wednesday.

COVID 19-hospitalizations also are on the rise, with a 7-day average of 245.9 patients hospitalized the week of December 4, up from the 7-day average of 170 COVID-19 patients the week of November 27.

This flu season has already surpassed flu seasons of the prior five years, and cases continue to rise. As of December 5, 10.3% of healthcare visits in Louisiana were for flu-like illness. This is well above the regional (8.6%) and national (7.5%) averages.

“It is possible we are seeing the beginning of another COVID-19 surge. On top of that, Louisiana is already experiencing its most active flu season in at least five years,” said LDH State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter. “Thankfully, we have the tools and experience to protect ourselves and those around us. Staying up to date on your COVID-19 and flu vaccines, including getting your bivalent COVID-19 booster, will give your body time to bolster immunity before the height of the holiday season.”

The updated COVID-19 boosters are formulated to offer continued protection against the original strain, while also offering new protection against two lineages of the Omicron variant, BA.4 and BA.5.

You are considered up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters if you have completed a primary series and received the most recent booster dose recommended for you by CDC. CDC recommends that people:

  • Ages 6 months through 4 years receive all COVID-19 original (monovalent) primary series doses
  • Ages 5 years and older receive all COVID-19 original (monovalent) primary series doses, plus an updated (bivalent) booster

Everyone six months of age and older should get their flu shot. It is safe and convenient to get your COVID-19 vaccine/booster and flu vaccine at the same time.

Louisiana residents should also consider getting tested ahead of gatherings, especially those that will include people vulnerable to severe outcomes due to COVID-19 and flu, such as older individuals, infants, and those with weakened immune systems. There are COVID-19 test sites throughout Louisiana. Visit ldh.la.gov/covidtesting or call 211 to find a test site near you.
Home testing kits are also widely available, and for people with insurance coverage, including Medicaid and Medicare, up to 8 tests per month are available free of charge.

Tips for staying healthy during the holidays

  • Stay up to date on your vaccines and boosters
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Know your risk
  • Make a plan with loved ones
  • For those who desire added protection, a high-quality mask such as an N95 or KN95, when worn correctly, provides excellent protection

Source