COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says they’ve seen their first flu-related death of the season.
“Sadly, an individual from the Pee Dee region has died from complications due to the flu, our first confirmed influenza-associated death of the season,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist and DHEC’s Director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control. “As we’re currently in the throes of the worst public health crisis in 100 years, it’s never been more important for each and every one of us to stay as healthy as possible and one key step we can take is getting our flu shots.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the DHEC say anyone six months or older should get vaccinated, and preventing the spread of the flu is important to keep vulnerable populations safe.
Health officials say getting the flu vaccine is even more important this year as it is possible for individuals to contract both the flu and coronavirus at the same time, which can cause even more complications.
“Another reason why it’s important to get your flu shot this year is we must avoid overwhelming our hospitals, ICUs, and ventilators as best we can with both flu and COVID-19 patients on the increase,” said Bell.
Health officials say those at high risk of serious complications from contracting the flu include young children, pregnant women, people 65 years and older, and those with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease, but even healthy individuals can see serious complications with the virus.
“Vaccination is one of the most successful public health interventions in history for reducing disease spread and preventing complications and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Bell said. “So many generations before us would have given anything to have a flu vaccine. With COVID-19’s prevalence across our state, we must every opportunity we have like the vaccines that medical science has afforded us to help prevent illness like the flu. The includes the use of masks, physical distancing good hygiene, and avoiding group gatherings. These measures prevent both influenza and COVID-19 infections.”
Officials say the flu vaccine is available through the DHEC health departments, doctor’s offices, clinics, pharmacies, schools, and workplaces.