SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Health officials are reporting the first flu death of the season in South Dakota.
The state health department tells KELOLAND News the death was reported in Todd County in a person in their 60s.
According to data from the Department of Health there were 89 confirmed cases of the flu from November 28th through December 4 and 150 since early October.
That’s more than all of the confirmed cases last flu season, which saw low numbers.
Dr. David Basel with Avera says influenza rates are starting to increase.
“And we’ve kind of forgotten about influenza because last year we had almost no cases of influenza, probably the lowest case during my 25-year career,” Avera Medical Group VP of Clinical Quality Dr. David Basel said.
Sanford’s Dr. Jennifer Hsu says people taking a more relaxed approach to COVID could change that this time around.
“With less masking in the community and people being out and about, not following physical distancing, I think that has increased the chance that influenza will start to circulate more like it has in prior years,” Hsu said.
One of the ways you can protect yourself against the flu is by getting the flu shot right now.
“Because we are seeing the rates rise and it takes several weeks for that vaccination to take effect,” Basel said.
“I think now is this perfect window of opportunity to get that done so that we don’t see a large rise in the influenza cases after the holidays,” Hsu said.
According to the CDC, you can get your flu and COVID-19 shots during the same visit.
“We’re already seeing patients that have tested positive for both COVID and influenza and that’s extremely dangerous and so anything we can do to prevent the spread of both illnesses is important,” Basel said.
Coming up on this week’s Inside KELOLAND, we talk with doctors from Sanford and Avera about how to protect yourself and loved ones from COVID-19 when making plans for the holidays.
That’s coming up Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. and Sunday night at 10:30 p.m.