As summer fades into fall and the temperature begins to get a little lower, it's a good time to think about your health and how to protect yourself from the flu. While the flu is not 100 percent preventable there are things we can do to lessen our risk of suffering from it and from spreading it to others.
"I don't think too many people are aware of how serious an illnesses it is," said Dr. Thersa Campbell.
Especially for those who are at risk for complications. They include the very young, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions. But the flu can affect anyone, no matter how fit and healthy.
That's why Dr. Campbell's message is clear: the flu shot saves lives, and is the single most effective way to keep your family flu-free this season.
Health workers like Shelly Shawd are getting theirs early.
"I'd rather have my arm sore for part of the day than be sick for 5 to 6 days," she said. The flu is spread by virus- infected droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air. Dr. Campbell said you can't catch it from being out in the cold or from getting the vaccination. But those in close quarters should be careful.
"Kids in schools are in tight conditions and they're sneezing on each other or their teacher," she said.
Good news for parents, starting this year the state will provide free flu shots to South Dakota kids ages 6 months to 18 years old.
The shots will be available through the department's local community health nursing offices. To find the office nearest you call 1-800- 738-2301.
If you have questions call 877-AT-AVERA or visit this website: www.averamckennan.org