COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – State health officials and doctors emphasized the role they say immunizations play in protecting you and your family from serious complications from respiratory illnesses.

Wednesday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and Prisma Health held a press conference at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia. They stressed the importance of staying up-to-date with vaccinations as the fall season marks the beginning of the respiratory disease season.

According to officials, this is a time when people are most vulnerable to respiratory viruses such as influenza (flu), the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and COVID-19.

Officials anticipate an increase in reported cases in the coming weeks and months. 

Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC director, emphasized that vaccinations are not only for children but are equally important for adults, especially older individuals and those with underlying medical conditions. With the availability of vaccines like the new RSV vaccine for older individuals, pneumococcal, and shingles vaccines, many serious illnesses can be prevented.

State health officials are sharing weekly updates of the latest respiratory disease data.

Dr. Anna-Kathryn Burch, a pediatric infectious diseases physician with Prisma Health, pointed out that many children are not up to date on their immunizations due to the pandemic. She stressed the importance of empowering families to protect their children through vaccination, including the annual influenza vaccine.