Flu season is underway, and the Palmetto State’s first flu-related death this season was confirmed Tuesday by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
"Sadly, an individual from the Upstate region has become our first lab-confirmed, influenza-associated death of the season," said Dr. Teresa Foo with DHEC. "Unfortunately we see many deaths, hospitalizations and other serious complications of flu each year in South Carolina."
A release from DHEC states those at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people 65 years and older and those with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart or lung disease.
"But even healthy people can have serious complications from the flu," Foo said in the release. "That is why it is so important for everyone six months and older to get the flu vaccine every year. It is the best way to prevent the flu."
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Foo stresses the importance of getting a flu shot to protect yourself from the virus.
"The most common strains of the flu virus that circulate can change every year, so it's important to get the current flu vaccine each year for the best protection,” she said. “Therefore, we strongly encourage people to get vaccinated now to prevent the flu and its potentially serious consequences.”
Officials recommend South Carolinians to take the following everyday preventive measures in addition to getting the vaccination:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If a tissue is not available, use the crook of your elbow.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.