PIERRE, S.D. (KELO AM) – During the last flu season, South Dakota vaccinated more than fifty percent of its adult population, achieving the second-highest vaccination rate in the nation, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Massachusetts had the highest rate, 57.6 percent, followed by South Dakota and Rhode Island, each with a 56.7 percent overall flu vaccination coverage rate. The national rate was 45.0 percent. South Dakota’s highest coverage rate was among people 65 years and older, 73.8 percent, and the lowest was among individuals 18-49 years of age, 44.4 percent.
“South Dakota has a strong history of flu immunization, which is a real testament to the hard work of our providers,” said Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the Department of Health. “While it’s nice to see our coverage rates among the highest in the country, there are still too many people who don’t get vaccinated.”
Annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone, but 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. The state offers free flu vaccine for kids from six months to 18 years.
Kightlinger noted that South Dakota had the nation’s highest adult flu vaccination rate in 2011-2012 (51.1 percent) and in 2010-2011 (55.6 percent).
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.