The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms may include a sudden onset of fever, cough, headache or muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat and nasal congestion or stuffiness. The flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.
In the past, there were two options for flu vaccine: the nasal spray or the shot. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that the nasal spray should not be used this flu season.
DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu. Vaccination to prevent flu is particularly important for people who are at increased risk of complications from flu, including young children, adults aged 50 years and older, pregnant women and people with certain chronic medical conditions.
DHEC conducts surveillance to gauge the trend of influenza in South Carolina, offers vaccinations at health departments and oversees school-located vaccination clinics.
The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
Most people who get the flu will have mild illness and will recover in less than two weeks. Some people with certain medical conditions (like heart or lung disease) or certain age groups (including children younger than 5 years and adults 65 years and older) are at high risk for developing flu-related complications (like pneumonia). Flu-related complications can be serious and lead to hospital stays or even death.
There are prescription medicines called antiviral drugs that can be used to treat influenza illness. These medicines can help prevent serious flu complications (like pneumonia). More information about antiviral drugs can be found on the CDC's website.