SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The flu season is rapidly approaching as the ArkLaTex continues mitigation measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Joseph Bocchini, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Willis-Knighton Health System, is urging the community to get a flu vaccine as early as possible.
“For the general public, it’s really important the people get vaccinated around the end of September or sometime in October,” Bocchini explained. “We want everyone vaccinated before the end of October.”
Bocchini is particularly concerned about the concurrence of the flu and coronavirus potentially overwhelming local health systems.
“In a severe year, influenza itself can overwhelm hospitals, patients do not have hospital beds, they have to wait in the emergency room, sometimes we fill intensive care units,” he said. “It’s really important we do out best to reduce the number of flu cases just in case we have a large number of COVID cases at the same time.”
Bocchini recommends everyone six months and older to receive a flu vaccine. Most importantly, Bocchini wants to reassure parents and individuals that there is nothing to fear about the vaccine.
“It’s not dangerous, we have years of experience with influenza vaccine, a large safety record that indicates this vaccine is safe, well-tolerated and has minimal adverse effects,” Bocchini said. “You might have a sore arm, low-grade fever, feel uncomfortable for 24 hours, but other than that, this is a very safe vaccine.”
With children and teachers now back in classrooms across the country, Bocchini is reminding parents that schools are breeding grounds for transmission of the flu.
“In addition, most children then go home and they spread the virus to their parents, their grandparents and caretakers,” said Bocchini. “So, the virus spreads in the community.”
Arms Brown is the parent of a child who attends school in Shreveport. Though he and his daughter become nervous around needles, Brown said the flu vaccine provides him with a peace of mind.
“For me, it’s just having that extra sense of security,” Brown said. “It’s almost similar to getting in your car every day and putting a seatbelt on — you don’t anticipate you’re going to get hurt, but you do it to protect yourself.”
Willis Knighton Health System is also launching a ‘drive-thru’ flu shot clinic next week, on Tuesday, September 15 and Thursday, September 17. Here’s what you need to know:
- Quick Care Bossier (September 15), Quick Care Forbing (September 17)
- 7 a.m. - 10 a.m., 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
- Bring insurance information (which usually covers cost of shot), or pay $35.
- Flu shots also available at all Quick Care locations beginning September 18
- Fill out this consent form ahead of time, or on-site