As the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control closes the door on a exceptionally severe flu season, health officials are encouraging patients to get the flu shot as the new one begins.
“Flu season’s just going to be getting started, so people need to get their flu vaccine and protect themselves,” DHEC Immunizations Medical Consultant Dr. Teresa Foo said. “It’s really the best protection.”
According to DHEC records, more than 135,700 flu cases were reported in South Carolina through September 22, including 292 deaths and 4,549 hospitalizations. As this current 2017-2018 season comes to a close, health experts say it was one of the worst seen in years in South Carolina in terms of deaths and hospitalizations.
Dr. Foo said getting a flu shot helps protect the community from the spread of the virus.
“It’s not just protecting yourself,” she said. “But we need to protect our community and there are many people out there who, if they get the flu, they can get very, very ill. They can end up in the hospital. We need to protect those people in our community. So making sure you’re not only getting flu shot, but your family is vaccinated to help protect those folks.”
Dr. Foo said the vaccine will not make you sick.
“One of the main things that we hear is ‘Well the flu shot’s going to cause me to get the flu,’ or ‘I’m going to get sick when I get the flu shot.’ That is not true. The flu shot does not cause the flu,” she said emphatically, noting the virus used in the vaccine is inactivated. “One of the main questions we get is that the flu vaccine causes the flu. It does not.”
Dr. Foo says children, elderly people, pregnant woman, or people with chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems are at risk for serious illness from the flu.
For more information on flu prevention and locations to get the flu vaccination, click here.