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Flu Forecast

September 22, 2011, 6:10 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Flu Forecast
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Along with nearly 139 others, Walter Schaefer isn't wasting any time getting armed against the flu by getting a flu shot at South Dakota Achieve.

"I don't want to spend anytime being sick, and I don't want the kids or anyone else, so it's pretty important that we do that," Schaefer said.

The CDC says the best way to stay protected is to get your flu shot, even though different strains of the virus pop up.

"They can make slight changes, which demands that we change our vaccines every year," Sanford Doctor Wendell Hoffman said.

Hoffman said regardless of which strain strikes this year, every flu virus is serious. In fact, in a typical year more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the U.S., and 36,000 people die after being infected with the virus.

"Based upon our knowledge of how flu affects a nation, we know that anywhere between five and 20 percent of the population in any one year will come down with influenza," Hoffman said.

Hoffman said he's not alarmed that some people have already been infected with the virus, and that's actually fairly common. Whether this will be a typical flu season though is a question yet to be answered.

"Because they never really know until the flu season actually begins.  Then they'll be able to tell us if the current vaccine is a good match for the strains that are present," Hoffman said.

However, Schaefer is optimistic getting his flu shot will help him stay healthy this flu season.

"Knock on wood, I haven't had the flu now for many, many years," Schaefer said.

If you would like to get a flu shot, KELO-TV is teaming up with Lewis Drug for its annual flu shot clinic next Tuesday. It's at any Sioux Falls Lewis store from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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