The influenza season in Louisiana is off to an early start, so in an effort to fight the flu, the Louisiana Health Department has scheduled days where residents can get vaccinated for free. LDH immunization director Doctor Frank Welch says most parish health clinics have selected a day to give out free flu shots.

“It is not perfect, but what it can do is it can protect some people from getting the flu completely. But other people, even if they get the flu, it makes it much less serious,” said Welch.

To find the flu vaccination day nearest you, visit the state health department’s website and go to the fight the flu section. Welch says getting vaccinated not only protects you from the flu, but it also protects those around you.

“I kind of think of it more as a community responsibility.  You are not only getting the flu shot to protect yourself, but you are actually protecting everyone else,” said Welch.

Last year in Louisiana, over 14,000 people were hospitalized with the flu and 1400 people died from complications from the flu. Welch says in October they have already seen a higher than normal number of cases.

“So far we’ve started out early, we’ve seen a few of these outbreaks.  It is kind of a signal that this could be a serious flu year, but again, we just don’t know,” said Welch.