Why it's not too late to get your flu shot - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Why it's not too late to get your flu shot

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So far there have been 469 influenza cases and nine reported deaths in South Dakota this flu season. That number is up significantly from this time last year. Health officials say anyone older than six months of age who has not been vaccinated against the flu should be vaccinated as soon as possible. Many experts say by getting a flu shot you will protect yourself and help prevent the spread of the flu. Many experts also say that a flu shot is the most effective protection against the flu. Influenza viruses are always changing, so getting a flu shot every year is recommended. It takes up to 2 weeks for protection to develop after the shot. Protection lasts about a year.

Health officials say this is the worst nationwide flu outbreak in four years. 47 States are now reporting the illness and several have declared health emergencies. With that in mind many people who have never gotten a flu shot before are getting one this year. There is some good news. The CDC says the number of states hit hard has dropped from 29 to 24. Even with that good news health officials still want you to get a flu shot.

Anyone can get influenza, but the most at-risk to get it are children. For most people, symptoms last only a few days. They include: fever/chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose. If you think you might have the flu you should contact your doctor so that hopefully you can cut down the severity of the flu and how long it will last.

Health experts say all people 6 months of age and older should get flu vaccine. They also say vaccination is especially important for people at higher risk of severe influenza and their close contacts. Those people include healthcare personnel and close contacts of children younger than 6 months. Health experts say adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before getting symptoms and up to 7 days after getting sick. That means that you can give someone the flu before you know you're sick as well as while you are sick.

To help cut down your risk of spreading germs or picking them up: cover your mouth and nose with you cough or sneeze, cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away, clean your hands often, wash your hands with soap and warm water, wash for 15 to 20 seconds which is about the same time it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice, when you can't wash your hands use alcohol-based wipes or hand gel, remind your children to practice healthy habits too especially at school or daycare. Also health officials say parents may want to send a water bottle with their child to school or daycare to avoid using public drinking fountains.

For more information about the flu or where you can be vaccinated, contact Ask-A-Nurse (1-800-658-3535), My Sanford Nurse (333-4444), or your health care provider.

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