Protect Yourself: Influenza Continues to Strike Hard

The flu season is under way across the country, and local health officials report continued increases in the number of influenza cases in South Dakota. Information released from the state Department of Health shows that seasonal influenza activity remains at a widespread level with the number of cases of Influenza A diagnosed in the state continuing to show a steady increase.

With a large portion of the flu season still ahead, local public health officials are urging people to practice good respiratory hygiene and get their flu shots.

“Vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent the flu,” says Dr. Jennifer Tinguely, Chief Medical Officer for Falls Community Health and the City of Sioux Falls Health Department. “Now is still a good time to get vaccinated. It is likely that flu activity will continue for several more weeks, so getting vaccinated now can still provide protection this season.”

While vaccination provides the greatest protection against the flu, other effective ways to avoid getting or spreading it include washing hands frequently; covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or coughing or sneezing into elbows; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and staying home when sick.

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, but some people are at particularly high risk and should be sure to be vaccinated. This includes people over the age of 65, children younger than 5 years of age, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions, health care workers, and household contacts of high-risk populations, especially those with young infants.

Additional information about the flu can be found at www.cdc.gov/flu/.