COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced Wednesday that the state has had its first flu-related death of the 2020 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.”
DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated. DHEC says preventing the flu is particularly important for people who are at increased risk of complications from the virus, including young children, adults over 50, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions.
DHEC says contracting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time is possible and could likely cause more complications than the flu alone. Officials are urging the public to get a flu vaccine.
“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.”
“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,” Bell added.
The flu vaccine is available from many providers including DHEC health departments, doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, schools, and workplaces.