SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — While COVID-19 is getting all the attention another virus is lurking out there. The flu season is fast approaching. The South Dakota Health Department expects to be tracking both cases of COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
In fact, some people may face a dangerous combination of both viruses at once.
The flu season for people in KELOLAND begins in a few weeks, running from October to April.
Over the past 5 years, South Dakota has averaged 39 deaths and 612 hospitalizations a year from influenza.
According to health department figures, last season the flu was blamed for just 2 deaths, only 6 people were hospitalized and there were only 19 confirmed cases.
“That is not our norm”, said State Epidemiologist Joshua Clayton. “We do see about 10,000 confirmed cases every year with influenza and so it’s going to occur where we are going to have some folks that will be impacted with both COVID-19 and influenza at the same time.”
People will be wondering okay, I’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 can I get my flu shot?
“That is a good question and what I would say is yes, if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 you can get your flu shot,” Clayton said.
Clayton says you can get the two shots together at the same time, but he does recommend you get them in separate arms.
As for people who will come down with both viruses at the same time this fall, Clayton says they often have a harder time and face higher odds of ending up in the hospital.
He says the mitigation efforts that almost eradicated the flu last year still work.
Social distancing, wearing masks and getting vaccinated will protect you from both the flu and COVID-19. Clayton says they also noted an unusually high number of RSV cases over the summer, which does not bode well for the upcoming flu season.