COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said a person in the Lowcountry has died from complications of the flu, marking the first flu-associated death of the season.
"Sadly, an individual from the Lowcountry region has died from complications due to the flu," said Dr. Lilian Peake, DHEC director of public health. "This is our first lab-confirmed, influenza-associated death of the season. Unfortunately, we see many deaths, hospitalizations and other serious complications of flu each year in South Carolina."
According to Peake, young children, pregnant women, people 65 years and older, as well as those with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease, are at a high risk of serious flu complications.
"Flu activity is unpredictable each year, so we need to prepare for several months of the virus circulating in our communities," Peake said. "The most common strains of the flu virus that circulate can change every year, so it's important to get the current flu vaccine each year for the best protection. Therefore, we strongly encourage people to get vaccinated now to prevent the flu and its potentially serious consequences. The vaccine takes about two weeks to build up your body's protection against the virus."
According to the DHEC news release, symptoms of the flu are a sudden onset of fever, dry cough, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat and nasal congestion or stuffiness.
DHEC encourage South Carolinians to, while sick, limit contact with others, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and to wash your hands often with soap and water, in addition to receiving their annual flu vaccination.
Peake said flu shots are available at doctors offices, clinics, pharmacies, DHEC health departments, schools and workplaces.
Flu vaccines are available by appointment at DHEC Health Department clinics by calling 1-855-472-3432, or by visiting www.scdhec.gov/flu/fluclinics.
To find a non-DHEC flu vaccine provider, visit flushot.healthmap.org.