Flu season starting early
October 07. 2009 6:00AM
By Alan Van Ormer
The flu season has struck the Dell Rapids community earlier than usual.
“We are seeing more flu than we normally do,” said Dale Gillogly, regional administrator for the Avera Medical Group.
Usually, the flu starts in late winter or early spring. And with the flu season starting earlier than normal, some community members are calling the local clinic and hospital concerned about vaccine.
According to a press release from the Division of Health and Medical Services in Pierre, there should be enough flu vaccine for both seasonal flu and H1N1 for anyone who wants it.
“It is not critical to get our flu vaccination early,” according to the press release. “Remember that people usually get their seasonal flu from October through February.”
Family Flu Shot Clinics have been set up at three different locations around Dell Rapids. One clinic will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the United Methodist Church Hall. A second is slated from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 28 at the Dell Rapids St. Mary’s School lunchroom. The final flu clinic will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 30 at the Dell Rapids Public School Library. For children, ages six months to 18 years of age, the shot is free. The cost for all others is $25.
Jen Hiller, who is the patient services supervisor for the Dells Rapids Medical Clinic, said there is a limited amount of vaccines. “Everyone is expected to get their full shipment, but it will take time,” she said.
For those who are concerned about H1N1, Hiller said the virus could have symptoms such as influenza. “We wouldn’t treat a patient any differently,” she said. “The virus spreads the same way.”
Gillogly said H1N1 has been declared a pandemic, but there aren’t many people being hospitalized for H1N1 across the state.
“They are hospitalized for different reasons,” Hiller said. “However, H1N1 wouldn’t be the sole diagnosis. It would be rare for people to be hospitalized for H1N1.”
Both local school districts have seen no signs of H1N1.
At Dell Rapids St. Mary, Principal Kelly Neill said the school is following the guidelines set up by the state.
In addition, the school has placed sanitizing dispensers in each of the rooms.
Personal precautions can be taken to help stop the spread of influenza. These include washing hands with soap and water, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your sleeve, not into your hands and staying home when sick.
“We treat the virus just like we treat the flu,” Neill said. “We are encouraging good hygiene to stop the spread of disease.”
Dell Rapids School Superintendent Tom Ludens said the school district has not seen any signs of H1N1.
The big concern is when the H1N1 vaccine will be available, he said.
The H1N1 vaccine has not been shipped and Hiller is not sure when that will occur.
The state has set up a Web site about the H1N1 flu in South Dakota: http://h1n1.sd.gov.