SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – The first day of Fall is only nine days away — which means flu season is almost here and health experts say it’s time to start preparing.
Last fall, hospitals warned people of a possible “twindemic,” a very possible scenario that both COVID-19 and flu patients could overwhelm already slammed hospitals.
According to DHEC, there were 6,712 cases of the flu during the 2019-2020 flu season in South Carolina and cases decreased during last year’s flu season.
But nurses want people to keep in mind that while flu cases are down thus far in 2021, they warn that there were also stricter precautions in place during this time last year— such as mask mandates and more social distancing — which could have contributed to decreased spread.
Health officials urge people to start making plans to get their yearly flu shots as soon as possible.
“I encourage everybody to get vaccinated for influenza every year. This year I feel like it’s particularly important because we don’t need influenza cases muddling the COVID cases and increasingly overwhelming our healthcare system,” Jennifer Province, LNP at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, said.
As we head into flu season, it’s important to know the difference between allergies, influenza and COVID-19. The only way to truly know the difference between COVID-19 and the flu is through a test because they share similar symptoms such as body aches, sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and headaches.
Here’s a breakdown of a few key symptoms to spot the difference between all three conditions:
- Shortness of breath
- Fever or chills *Not everyone with the flu will have a fever
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Sneezing and an itchy, runny or congested nose
- Itchy, red, watering eyes
- Wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, cough
- Raised, itchy, red rash
- Swollen lips, tongue, eyes or face
- Dry, red and cracked skin
For those planning to get their COVID-19 vaccine shots should schedule the appointments a few days apart from their yearly flu shot. Nurses tell us this will give your body the time it needs adjust to each shot.
Here’s a few places that offer the flu vaccine for free: