S.D. leads nation in vaccinating adults

S.D. leads nation in vaccinating adults South Dakota vaccinated a higher percentage of its adult residents in 2002 than any other state in the nation and health officials are hoping to repeat that success for this year's influenza season.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that South Dakota led the nation last year for the rate of adults aged 50-64 receiving the flu vaccine at 49 percent. We had the second highest for those older 65 years of age, 74 percent," said Michelle Hudecek, Immunization Program Coordinator for the Department of Health. "We encourage South Dakotans to build on this tradition and get vaccinated again this year."

Each year in the United States, influenza results in an average of 36,000 deaths and 114,000 hospitalizations. The vast majority of influenza-related deaths occur in those 65 and over. In 2002, 239 South Dakota residents dies due to influenza and pneumonia, the majority in the 65 and older age group.

Hudecek said individuals at high risk for complications from influenza should get vaccinated in October. Those not at risk can be vaccinated in October and November. Vaccinations given in December and later will provide some protection for those who miss the recommended optimal months.

The department recommends influenza vaccination for the following groups that are either at increased risk for complications from influenza or are able to transmit influenza to high risk individuals:

* people 65 years of age and older;

* children 6-23 months old (when a child receives the shot for the first time, a booster is required one month after the first dose);

* adults and kids with chronic health conditions (diabetes, asthma, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, HIV);

* women more than three months pregnant during flu season;

* health care workers; and

* household members and caregivers of high risk people.

A flu shot is also recommended for individuals between the ages of 50 and 64 because this group has an increased prevalence of persons with high-risk conditions. Members of the general public not in the risk groups can benefit from influenza vaccination as well. This year an effective nasal vaccination (FluMist) is also available. It is recommended only for healthy people aged 5-49.

This season, the department will again be working with a network of sentinel health care site across the state to track the spread of influenza. The sites will be submitting nasal specimens for viral culture at the Public Health Laboratory.

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