SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota has confirmed its first flu-related deaths of the season.

The health department says three people in their 50’s or older have died.

Flu activity in South Dakota is classified as widespread. Experts say it’s not too late to get vaccinated, and the time to do so is now.

“The flu vaccine is recommended for everybody 6 months of age and older. And even those children who are still like turning, now becoming 6 months of age, they should get it,” Dr. Fernando Bula-Rudas said.

Dr. Fernando Bula-Rudas says children carry the highest attack rate, meaning they’re the most at risk of catching flu, and also spreading it to others.

While the vaccine can’t guarantee you won’t get the flu, he says it still has benefits.

“We have seen the vaccine is effective in preventing the complications from the influenza infection, meaning that those who get the vaccine are less likely to be admitted to the hospital with complication. And that applies for children and both adults as well,” Bula-Rudas said.

He says complications that can result from the flu include severe respiratory issues, cardiac arrest and death.

To avoid getting sick, Whiffer Randall receives her vaccine every year in addition to a few other safety measures.

“Eat well, exercise, try and avoid people who are sick and wash your hands,” Randall said.

If you have to sneeze or cough, try covering your mouth with your arm instead of your hands to avoid spreading germs.

Experts say if you or your child has the flu, the best thing you can do is to stay home to avoid spreading it to anyone else.

But Bula-Rudas says close attention should be paid to children under age 5, particularly under 2 for complications.

“If the child is looking ill, you know, having a fever, not eating, not drinking well, then you should seek for attention and make sure that the child is fine,” Bula-Rudas said.

He says with an early rise in influenza this season compared to past years, this information is more important than ever.

If you’re still in need of your flu vaccine call your doctor.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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