Augusta’s Morning News

South Carolina Confirms First Flu Death of the Season

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says the first flu-related death has been confirmed in the Palmetto state. Flu season typically lasts from October to May, with the peak usually arriving in January. "Unfortunately, a person from the Midlands region has died from complications due to the flu, becoming our first confirmed influenza-associated death just before the official start of the flu season on October 1," said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist and DHEC's Director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control. Vaccine Recommendations Dr. Bell reminds residents that the best way to prevent the flu is to get your shot early.  A reminder that it takes about two weeks for the body's immune system to respond for full protection. So, getting the vaccine as early as possible is important. DHEC and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated.  Preventing the flu is particularly important for people who are at increased risk of complications from the virus. This at risk group includes young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older, and those with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart or lung disease. Vaccine Availability The flu vaccine will be available from many providers. This includes DHEC health departments no later than October 1, doctors' offices, clinics, pharmacies, schools and workplaces.  Health officials say it's safe to receive the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.  Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first product for preventing RSV lower respiratory tract disease in infants and an RSV vaccine for adults at least 60 years old. Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC's director of Public Health, said "We can't predict what this season will bring, but we are preparing for significant activity not only from the flu, but respiratory illnesses in general, to include COVID-19 and RSV."  He said being vaccinated is the best protection from all three.

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