DHEC Encourages Residents to Get Flu Shots During National Influenza Vaccination Week
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Dec. 5, 2023
COLUMBIA, S.C. – In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week Dec. 4-8, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) urges residents who have not yet gotten their annual flu shot to do so as soon as possible in advance of upcoming seasonal and holiday gatherings.
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months and is safe for pregnant people and anyone wishing to become pregnant. It is important to receive the flu vaccine every fall since the flu virus changes every year, requiring an updated vaccine to be better protected against the currently circulating flu.
“We’ve seen widespread flu activity across the state over the past several weeks, with an increase in both flu cases and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “It’s critical that South Carolinians make a point to get their flu shots now if they haven’t already in order to protect themselves and slow the spread of influenza in the community.”
DHEC’s Flu Watch page includes weekly surveillance data of flu cases, hospitalizations and deaths and provides current flu vaccination data. The latest report shows a total of 1,691 new cases reported during the week of Nov. 19-25 and 7,229 cases to date this flu season. There have been four influenza-associated deaths so far this flu season.
The flu vaccine is available from many providers, including many DHEC health departments, doctors' offices, clinics, pharmacies, schools and workplaces. Most insurance companies cover the cost of vaccination. For those who have not had either of the two, it is safe to receive the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.
“It is especially important that people get updated vaccines for respiratory illnesses, including the flu and COVID, as we enter the holiday season,” Bell said. “This is the time when we gather with our friends and families in large groups indoors, which can increase the spread of these viruses. Getting your vaccines and practicing healthy habits will help protect you and your loved ones from the flu and other viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.”