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DHEC Encourages Annual Flu Shots, COVID-19 Vaccinations and Boosters as Colder Months Approach

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 22, 2022

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Flu season began earlier this month, and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is using this time to encourage residents to get their annual flu shot and take other precautions to prevent severe cases of influenza. Vaccines are easy to get, as many pharmacies, primary care providers, and vaccine providers offer flu shots.

The quadrivalent flu vaccine offers the best protection against the four most common flu viruses, including two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. It is important to receive the flu vaccine every fall since the flu virus changes every year and requires an updated vaccine. Getting a flu vaccine remains especially important due to the possibility of a more severe flu season.  Additionally, medium and high community levels of COVID-19 remain in many areas of South Carolina.

“While COVID-19 disease rates are declining, it is still a deadly virus that is best staved off through vaccinations and boosters,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist. “As we approach the cooler months when respiratory illnesses tend to increase, residents will need to make sure they are protecting themselves against COVID-19 and influenza before higher case rates occur. Keeping South Carolinians safe and out of the hospital is our primary goal and we can accomplish that through these life-saving vaccines for both flu and COVID-19.”

COVID-19 and the flu have many of the same symptoms including fever or chills, coughing and sore throat. Because of this, anyone experiencing symptoms should talk to a health care provider about testing for COVID-19 and flu. Free COVID-19 testing kits are available at DHEC health departments.

In addition to vaccines, other precautions are strongly recommended to prevent virus spread including washing your hands regularly with soap and water, covering your coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your elbow, and staying home and away from others when sick. Masking to prevent COVID-19 is also recommended based on  community levels in individual counties.

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of six months, and is safe for pregnant women and women wishing to become pregnant. A COVID-19 vaccination is also available for anyone over the age of six months, and boosters are also recommended for various age groups and populations. The vaccines for flu and COVID-19 can both be safely administered during the same visit.

DHEC provides weekly flu surveillance reports for South Carolina online at scdhec.gov/flu.

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