COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) — South Carolina’s top health agency is urging eligible residents to get their flu vaccine amid a recent spike in cases.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control said the state saw 755 lab-confirmed cases of the flu during a recent weekly report spanning Dec. 5-11.

A number that health leaders said signified “widespread flu activity” across the state.

South Carolina did not have widespread flu activity last year, thanks in part to many COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures. South Carolina only reported 50 flu cases during the same week in 2020.

Only 309 cases were reported during the same period in 2019.

“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 [the] nation. So we strongly encourage all eligible people to get their flu shots, as well as their COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters.”

Health officials said the average flu season typically runs from September to May and peaks from December through February.

DHEC said the flu and COVID-19 can have similar symptoms. Anyone with symptoms like fever or chills, coughing, or sore throat should get tested because “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, DHEC said.

“Both the COVID-19 vaccine, and the flu shot, are the most effective ways to prevent severe cases of both viruses,” said Kelly. “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.”

Flu shots are recommended for people ages six months and older.