South Carolina Ranks among Highest for Flu Cases, Urges Vaccination
South Carolina is currently one of the two states with the highest number of flu cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Along with Louisiana, the state has been grappling with a surge in flu cases this season. In fact, South Carolina has already recorded 12 flu-related deaths, including the tragic loss of a child.
Health officials are stressing the importance of taking the flu seriously, as it can lead to severe illness and even death. Certain groups, such as infants, young children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with chronic medical conditions, are particularly vulnerable to the flu and other respiratory illnesses.
This year’s flu season started on October 1st and has surpassed the previous year’s in terms of doctor visits and hospitalizations. Coinciding with the active flu season are ongoing COVID-19 cases and an elevated number of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases.
Amidst these concerning trends, health experts are urging the public to adhere to preventive measures, which have proven effective against both the flu and COVID-19. These measures include vaccination, wearing masks, frequent handwashing, and staying home when feeling unwell.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) strongly advises everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated against the flu, COVID-19, and RSV. Vaccination is recommended throughout the fall and winter months, especially before large holiday gatherings. Illnesses contracted during holiday gatherings may take days to show symptoms, leading to a potential increase in cases following the holidays.
While South Carolina is grappling with these respiratory illnesses, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is currently circulating. The CDC is closely monitoring the effectiveness of the updated COVID vaccine against this variant. Vaccination is still considered the best way to prevent hospitalizations and severe illness from COVID-19.
Furthermore, RSV cases have been significantly elevated this season, particularly among older adults who are at a high risk of complications and death from this infection. Although RSV is not currently reportable in South Carolina, DHEC has initiated the reporting of RSV outbreaks.
Preventive options for RSV include a vaccine for adults aged 60 and older, as well as a monoclonal antibody for infants and high-risk children. Health officials are emphasizing the need to take RSV seriously, given its potential for high hospitalization and mortality rates.
In conclusion, health officials are emphasizing the importance of vaccination and other preventive measures in reducing the spread of flu, COVID-19, and RSV to protect public health. By taking these precautions, South Carolina residents can help safeguard themselves and their communities from these respiratory illnesses.
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