RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — It’s not just COVID-19 cases that are on the rise, influenza is also spreading across South Dakota. Lately, Monument Health in Rapid City has been busy with flu patients.

Whether it’s COVID-19, Influenza, or any other health problem, Monument Hospital is running at full capacity.

“This is something we knew would happen with the pandemic is that a lot of folks that routinely get care are going to be delayed in getting their care because they either didn’t seek care or postponed seeking care and now the backlog starts to accumulate,” Dr. Shankar Kurra, VP of Medical Affairs, said.

Since the start of flu season, there have been 37 flu patients here at Monument Health. That’s a 54 percent increase compared to last flu season.

Ty White, the Director of Infection and Prevention Control, says typically South Dakota’s peak influenza month is February.

“So this is really early to see this amount of influenza in the community. Last year we didn’t really have an influenza season, it was extremely mild almost non-existent but the year before that we did have quite an increase. And we are currently out-pacing that right now. So hopefully this will just be an early season but we just don’t know yet,” White said.

One thing health officials do know is that it’s not too late to get your flu shot.

“It’s the easiest way to prevent the symptoms and hospitalizations and infections is to get vaccinated for both influenza and COVID. That way we can keep you home and healthy and out of the hospital,” White said.

The influenza vaccine is not 100 percent effective. However, Monument Health says it is the best way to prevent serious symptoms.