DHEC reports first flu-related death during 2021 season

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) — Wednesday, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported the first flu-related death of the 2021 season. So far, the Palmetto State has reported 79 cases of the flu.

“Sadly, an individual from the Upstate 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 continue to respond to the worst public health crisis in 100 years, it’s important that we all remain as healthy as possible. One key step we can take is getting our flu shots.”

Anyone 6 months and older is eligible for a flu shot and experts say it’s safe to receive both flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time. Similar to the COVID vaccines, DHEC says it takes up to 14 days after inoculation for your body to build protection against the flu.

DHEC says young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and those with asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease are at high risk of complications from the flu. Contracting COVID and the flu simultaneously is possible and is likely to cause more complications. Healthy people who contract the virus can also become ill, DHEC says.

Bell stressed the importance of vaccination against the flu, citing the possibility of overwhelming hospitals with both flu and COVID patients.

“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 use the vaccines that medical science has afforded us to help prevent illness like the flu.” 

To schedule a flu vaccine call with DHEC call 1-855-472-3432 or to do so online, click or tap here.

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