Health officials urge flu shots for high risk

Health officials urge flu shots for high risk
A state health official says now is the time for South Dakotans at high risk for influenza to be getting their flu shots. State Epidemiologist Dr. Lon Kightlinger said the following are at highest risk for influenza and should be vaccinated now:

? Persons aged 65 and older;

? Residents of long-term-care facilities;

? Persons aged 2-64 years with chronic medical conditions;

? Children aged 6-23 months;

? Pregnant women;

? Health-care personnel who provide direct patient care;

? Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children younger than 6 months.

"Those at high risk should talk to their health care provider or get to one of the flu shot clinics gearing up across the state," said Kightlinger. "People who aren't at high risk should hold off until after Oct. 24 so those who are can get the shots first."�

Although influenza has not yet been detected in South Dakota this season, four states have already reported a few sporadic cases.�

In addition to getting a flu shot, South Dakotans can also prevent the spread of the flu by practicing the common sense hygiene of the department's "Stop It, Don't Spread It" campaign:

? Wash your hands often with soap and water;

? Use hand gel when washing isn't possible;

? If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth;

? Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth;

? If you're sick stay home.

Influenza is a viral respiratory illness marked by the sudden onset of fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. It spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, sending the highly contagious virus into the air. Each year in the U.S., influenza results in an average of 36,000 deaths and 114,000 hospitalizations. �

For more information about influenza, visit the web at http://flu.sd.gov.�

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