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North Oaks Family Medicine Physician Howard J. Raphael, M.D., Recommends Flu Shots for Everyone, 6 Months and Older

North Oaks Family Medicine Physician Howard J. Raphael, M.D., Recommends Flu Shots for Everyone, 6 Months and Older

Influenza season is here in Southeast Louisiana, and North Oaks Family Medicine Physician Howard J. Raphael, M.D., urges protection against this easily spread respiratory virus.

“As a husband, father, grandfather and board-certified family medicine physician, I encourage adults and children, ages 6 months and older, to get an annual flu shot. Getting your flu shot decreases the chance of getting the virus and the risk of complications, such as pneumonia or hospitalizations, if you do contract influenza,” states Dr. Raphael. “You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine; however, you may experience side effects, like body aches and a slight fever, as your immune system works to develop antibodies to influenza.”

North Oaks Urgent Care clinics in Hammond, Ponchatoula and Walker are offering flu shots for adults and children, age 6 months and older. A high-dose vaccine for senior adults, age 65 and older, also is available. Reserve your appointment online here. North Oaks Urgent Care hours of operation are 7 a.m.-8 p.m. every day of the week.

In addition, all North Oaks primary care and certain specialty clinics are offering flu vaccines by appointment. Clinics include: North Oaks Primary Care in Hammond, Livingston and Independence; as well as Hammond’s North Oaks Family Medicine, Northshore Internal Medicine Associates, Magnolia Obstetrics & Gynecology, North Oaks Pulmonology and North Oaks Rheumatology. To locate a participating clinic, click here or call North Oaks Physician Group at (985) 230-APPT [2778] or (844) APPT-NOW [277-8669].

Dr. Raphael continues, “If you think of the immune system in terms of the military, the flu shot is a military exercise. The military exercise will prepare you for battle and increase your chances of victory. The flu shot prepares your immune system for victory over the flu. Get your flu shot. Let's be victorious!”

All flu vaccines offered in the U.S. are quadrivalent, offering protection against four strains of the virus projected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be most prevalent for the 2023-2024 season: an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and two influenza B viruses.

Most health insurance plans are accepted, and many may cover the vaccine as a preventive service at no cost to you and covered family members. To verify acceptance of your plan and preventive service coverage, contact your insurance provider. Self-pay options also are available by request.

Vaccination of high-risk individuals is especially important to decrease the risk of severe flu illness. Vaccination is important for healthcare workers, those who live with or care for high-risk individuals, and caregivers of and those who live with infants younger than 6 months. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also get vaccinated to avoid severe complications from the flu. Vaccination during pregnancy or while breastfeeding can help protect infants during the first months of life (when they are too young to be vaccinated).

Flu vaccines are not appropriate for infants younger than 6 months of age, individuals with severe life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine ingredients and those who have had a severe allergic reaction to a dose of the flu vaccine in the past.

North Oaks Urgent Care clinics are located at: 1900 S. Morrison Blvd., Suite A in Hammond (within North Oaks Rehabilitation Hospital); 530 W. Pine St., Suite 1 in Ponchatoula; and 28050 Walker S. Road, Suite L in Walker

Hours of operation for other participating North Oaks primary care and specialty clinics are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays.

Speak with your healthcare provider to learn more about influenza and flu vaccines. You also can visit the CDC website here.