Avera Medical Minute AMcK: Flu reaches widespread in South Dakota

By  | 

The flu has reached widespread in South Dakota with 68 hospitalizations and two deaths this flu season.

“I missed a couple days of work which is pretty rare,” said firefighter Michael Gramlick.

The flu hit Gramlick and his family hard this past Thanksgiving.

“My wife is in health care and I obviously work for the fire department, so we get flu shots every year. Our kids do as well. I’m assuming we fell victim to the headlines that are out there, that it just wasn’t a great year for efficacy. But we do get them every year. We believe in science so we believe in herd immunity and we think it’s important to try to help,” said Gramlick.

Gramlick says as a firefighter, he comes into contact with patients on a daily basis.

“Most of the time when you’re getting your immunization shots, it might not necessarily be for us. We’re in the age where we’re healthy; we have good immune systems. But you’re trying to help other people who may not have good immune systems – older, younger,” said Gramlick.

“The risk of the flu shot are slim to none, so I’d still recommend that people get that,” said Dr. Jason Knutson, family medicine physician.

Dr. Knutson says even though the efficacy of the flu vaccine may not be as high as other years, it still provides protection.

“It doesn’t matter how much less effective it is, it’s that much effective right? So if it’s 35% effective, well that’s 35% of the people that can still get a benefit,” said Dr. Knutson.

And if you get the flu shot and still get the flu, like the Gramlick family, your symptoms may be less severe than someone who didn’t get vaccinated.

“So maybe you have symptoms that were going to be an eight out of 10 at one point – maybe it brings it down to a seven or a six. That may be enough to keep you out of the hospital or worse if you’re a really sick person,” said Dr. Knutson.

Gramlick says he tries to do his part in stopping the spread of the flu and getting vaccinated is just one way.

“A lot of it is just trying to make sure you’re not bringing it into the workplace for people with young kids at home too because that’s the problem is that we’re all just handing it around too much,” said Gramlick.

“Influenza is pretty much airborne. People cough and people breathe it in. So if you can cough into your elbow, try not to cough into your hands, and then wash your hands repeatedly -- that’s the best thing to do,” said Dr. Knutson.

If you haven’t gotten your flu shot already, it is not too late to do so.

For more information, just call 877-AT-AVERA.