DHEC Urges Eligible South Carolinians to Get Their Flu Shots Amid Recent Spike in Cases
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 21, 2021
COLUMBIA, S.C. — As we enter the heart of flu season with cases rising higher than they have in recent years, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is strongly encouraging flu shots for all eligible residents. Flu shots are recommended for ages six months and up.
DHEC’s latest weekly flu report shows numbers for the week of Dec. 5-11. During that week, South Carolina reported 775 lab-confirmed cases, which signified “widespread flu activity” across the state. South Carolina did not experience widespread activity last flu season. During the same week last year, the Palmetto State saw just 50 cases. And the year before that, it reported 309 cases. Weekly flu reports from earlier this season also show higher numbers than the previous two years.
“While last year may have been an anomaly due to COVID-19, this year’s numbers are still significantly higher than numbers we saw pre-pandemic,” said Dr. Jane Kelly, DHEC’s assistant state epidemiologist. “We know there have been talks of a ‘twindemic’ with COVID and the flu. And that’s the last thing we want to see in South Carolina and throughout the rest of nation. So we strongly encourage all eligible people to get their flu shots, as well as their COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.”
The average flu season usually runs from September to May and peaks from December through February. Because the flu and COVID-19 can have similar symptoms, anyone with symptoms such as fever or chills, coughing, or sore throat should get tested, as testing is the only way to confirm what illness a person has. If a person with these symptoms tests negative for COVID-19, they can talk to their health care provider about getting a flu test.
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 takes about two weeks for the body’s immune system to respond for full protection. It is important to get vaccinated as early as possible to be fully protected before flu viruses begin circulating even more widely. The flu vaccine is available from many providers, including DHEC health departments, doctors' offices, clinics, pharmacies, schools and workplaces.
“Both the COVID-19 vaccine, and the flu shot, are the most effective ways to prevent severe cases of both viruses,” Kelly added. “We need everyone on board for these life-saving immunizations if we’re going to get through this pandemic and flu season with as few severe cases and deaths as possible.”
For more on the flu, visit CDC's information page and DHEC’s activity page. Visit the DHEC COVID-19 webpage for more information, the locator page to find a nearby place to get vaccinated, or call our Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110.