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October 12, 2016

Now is the time for South Carolinians to get the flu vaccine

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The flu season is upon us and now is the time to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from the viral disease, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced today.

Even if you got vaccinated last year, you should do so again this year because protection from last season decreases over time; also, the flu vaccine is updated each year to keep up with changing flu viruses.

"The flu vaccine is still the best way to prevent serious illness this fall and winter," said Teresa Foo MD, MPH, DHEC Immunization Medical Consultant. "It's never too early to get the flu vaccine. South Carolinians should act now to protect themselves and their families."

Last week, the state suffered its first flu-associated death of the season. An individual from the Midlands region has become South Carolina's first influenza-associated death of the season. "We are in the beginning stages of our state's flu season, which is why it is important to get vaccinated now, said Dr. Foo. "The vaccine takes about two weeks to build up your body's protection against the virus, and vaccination is - by far - the best way to prevent the spread of the flu."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised against the use of the nasal spray flu vaccine for the 2016-17 season because of concerns that the nasal spray did not provide good protection against the H1N1 influenza virus in previous seasons. The flu shot still provides good protection against influenza.

"Flu vaccine is available from many local providers-including doctors' offices, clinics, pharmacies, schools and workplaces," said Dr. Foo. "Beginning October 17, DHEC county public health departments will also be offering flu vaccine."

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms may include a sudden onset of fever, cough, headache or muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat and nasal congestion or stuffiness. The flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.

DHEC and the CDC recommend that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu. Vaccination to prevent flu is particularly important for people who are at increased risk of complications from flu, including young children, adults aged 50 years and older, pregnant women and people with certain chronic medical conditions.

Flu vaccines offered at DHEC Health Department clinics will be available by appointment. Call 1-855-472-3432 to make an appointment or go to to find the location closest to you. To find a non-DHEC flu vaccine provider near you, go to

DHEC Media Relations