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South Dakota Ag News Headlines
Stopping the Flu Starts with You
By: Dennis Daugaard, Governor - 11/07/2018

As my term comes to a close, Linda and I have been planning for our future outside the Governor's office. One of the things we are most looking forward to is spending more time with friends, family and loved ones. In addition to planning for our financial future, we've also been taking steps to ensure we're taking care of our health, including getting our annual flu vaccination.

Last year, South Dakota experienced one of its most severe flu seasons in recent history. Although the flu is considered a common illness, its complications can be deadly, especially for those at highest risk for complications. An annual flu vaccination is the single most important thing we can do to prevent the flu--and it's not too late to get your flu shot for this year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 80,000 Americans died from influenza last season. In South Dakota, 73 deaths were reported and 92 percent of them occurred among adults aged 65 years and older. South Dakotans have a history of taking care of themselves when it comes to vaccination. We live by the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Unfortunately, influenza vaccination among South Dakotans 65 years and older dropped by 12.5 percent last year, putting us behind the national average since routine reporting began in 2010.

Due to the weakening of the immune system that happens with age, it is vitally important that people over the age of 65 get their annual flu vaccination. Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce flu illness and serious complications. Recent studies have shown that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit admissions (and length of stay), and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients 65 years and older.

Don't make the mistake of thinking the flu isn't a serious illness. The headache, fever, chills, coughing and body aches can be very severe and for some people, can lead to complications like pneumonia that may require hospitalization.

The medical community recommends yearly flu vaccination for everyone over the age of six months. Vaccination is especially important for those who are at higher risk for flu complications -- pregnant women, people over age 50, people with chronic medical conditions like heart disease and health care workers.

Infants are too young to be vaccinated, so we can best protect infants by getting vaccinated ourselves, especially if we have infants in our households. For your own health and the health of those you love, contact your local clinic or pharmacy today about getting vaccinated for the flu.

Learn more about what you can do to stop the flu at FluBug.org.

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