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South Dakota has nation's highest flu immunization rate in 2010-2011 season

Thursday, September 29, 2011
CONTACT: Lon Kightlinger, (605) 773-3737 
South Dakota has nation's highest flu immunization rate in 2010-2011 season
PIERRE, S.D. – A recent CDC report shows South Dakota with the nation’s highest overall flu immunization rate for the 2010-2011 season. The state’s overall rate was 55.6%, well above the national rate of 43%.
“While we’re pleased with that 55.6% coverage rate, we would like to see even more South Dakotans protect themselves with an annual flu vaccine,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, State Epidemiologist for the South Dakota Department of Health. “Vaccine is readily available for this season and we’ve already reported one case of flu so it’s not too early to think about scheduling vaccination for you and your family.”
While annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone, some groups are at higher risk – pregnant women, people over 50 years and people with chronic medical conditions. Health-care workers and household contacts of high risk populations, especially those with young infants in the household, should also be vaccinated. 
Kightlinger reminded parents that the state offers free flu vaccine for kids from six months to 18 years. Kids account for a significant number of flu cases and hospitalizations each year and also help spread the illness in the community. 
“Last year, four of South Dakota’s 20 flu deaths were children,” said Dr. Kightlinger. “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to vaccinate children for their own protection and for the protection of the people around them.”
In addition to an annual flu vaccination, prevent the disease with these steps:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand gel if you can’t wash; 
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze;
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth; 
  • Stay home if you're sick.
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. Learn more at http://flu.sd.gov.  
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