This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MANDEVILLE – If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, now is the time.

St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston said annual flu shots are essential for the elderly and for children under two, especially this year.

“Influenza has been particularly harsh this year, and it is not to be taken lightly,” Preston said. “Flu and pneumonia are the eighth-leading cause of death in the United States, and is not to be taken lightly.”

In fact, getting a flu shot each year can have a cumulative effect, according to a recent study that found repeated annual vaccinations help reduce the effects and shorten the duration of the flu.

“While the mechanism of increased protection is not specifically elucidated in recent studies, it makes since that with repeated vaccinations there may be some element of immunologic memory from season to season – or vaccine to vaccine – that contributes to a protective effect in this high-risk population,” Preston said. “Most insurance companies pay 100 percent of the cost of the flu vaccine, and the State of Louisiana is offering free vaccines to uninsured citizens on Jan. 31, at multiple locations around the state. It is not too late to get the vaccination, and you cannot contract influenza from the vaccine. In the strongest possible terms, I encourage everyone over six months of age to have a flu shot.”