- Persons at high risk for influenza-related complications and severe disease, including children aged 6-59 months, pregnant women, persons aged 50 years, persons of any age with certain chronic medical conditions;
- Persons who live with or care for those at high risk, including household contacts who have frequent contact with persons at high risk and who can transmit influenza to those persons at high risk and health-care workers.
This is the first year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended kids be vaccinated from 24 months to their fifth birthday. "Children aged 6 to 23 months are almost as likely as the elderly to be hospitalized for complications from the flu, which is why they have been on the list of high groups for several years now," said Dr. Kightlinger. "Kids between 24 months and their fifth birthday were added this year because they are more likely to see a doctor or visit an emergency room for flu than older, healthy kids."
Vaccine manufacturers have reported they expect to produce more than 100 million doses of flu vaccine this season, more than in any previous season. The vaccine is expected to be distributed throughout October and November.
"During most years, flu doesn't even peak until February so getting a flu shot in December or even January still offers protection," said Dr. Kightlinger. "Getting vaccinated in October and November may be best, but it really is never too late to get a flu shot, even if the virus is already circulating in the community."
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, including many South Dakotans.
For more information about influenza, visit the Web at http://flu.sd.gov.