On the Money Flu Shots

According to the CDC, flu costs the nation about $7 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity among working-age adults. 

Lafayette ranks atop the nation in a flu index, according to data released Wednesday by national pharmacy chain Walgreens. Alexandria, New Orleans and Baton Rouge markets followed at Nos. 2, 6 and 8 in the country.

Walgreens released the report, which reflects November’s data, during National Influenza Vaccination Week. In an issued statement, the company said it measures not the severity of flu cases but their incidence, based on medications filled at the company’s more than 9,000 outlets. Walgreens is the nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain.

The company’s data suggested that Louisiana designated markets were worst among the states and Puerto Rico for the number of flu cases. Other top 10 states, in order, were Nevada, Texas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee, Alabama, Nebraska, Florida and Arkansas. Texas led the country for flu cases in November 2018.

Patricia Thompson, spokeswoman for Lafayette General Health, said the infection control department said neither the hospital nor its clinics have seen a significant uptick in flu cases yet, although the hospital has seen an increase in requests for flu shots.

She said the LGH ran out of the flu vaccine temporarily but is “back in business now.”

She said LGH expects to see an increase in flu cases around January and February, which she said would be typical. But, she added, this flu season is atypical. She said cases were reported as early as August, some two months earlier than normal.

Walgreens said the best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get a shot before flu attacks a community. More information about the vaccine can be found at walgreens.com/flu.

Email Ken Stickney at kstickney@theadvocate.com.