While coronavirus steals headlines, influenza continues to impact millions in the United States

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The flu bug we call it, but influenza can be much more serious than just the commonality we make it out to be. The flu can lead to days of missed work or school, hospitalization, and even death.

While coronavirus is stealing all the headlines, the flu continues to impact millions right here in our backyard.

"We don't want to lose sight of the fact that influenza is serious and can really make people sick, so we want to take that seriously, we want to keep our students and families healthy," Molly Satter, Health Services Coordinator for the Sioux Falls School District, said.

Satter says she sees the bug bounce around from student to student each year.

"The peak can vary from year to year, usually it's around this time, but we can see it out into March and April, so there's quite a bit of time left in the season," Satter said.

According to the Center for Disease Control, influenza has lead to the death of at least 12,000 people in the United States since this past fall.

And while not every case of the flu is life threatening, more than 20 million Americans have had the illness this season, 210,000 of which were hospitalized.

"In the fall we do vaccinations for middle and high school students, and we do encourage all students to see their health care provider for a flu shot if they don't get one with us," Satter said. "And it's still not too late to get a flu shot."

For Satter, it's all about prevention.

"So if they are in a small confined area, of course those diseases can spread quickly, so that's why we always recommend those preventative measures," Satter said. "We're always talking to kids about washing their hands, coughing in your arm instead of your friends, and that kind of thing."

The South Dakota Department of Health reports the state has seen nearly 6,000 cases of the flu, 189 hospitalization, and seven deaths.