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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 22, 2011

DHEC confirms flu’s arrival in SC

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Influenza, or "the flu," has officially arrived in South Carolina, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"We’ve confirmed the Influenza B virus in a 5-year-old child from Lexington County," said Jennifer Meredith, Ph.D., of DHEC's Division of Microbiology. "The flu case was confirmed through our annual statewide laboratory-based influenza surveillance program that includes partnerships with volunteer private practice physician offices, hospitals, colleges and nursing homes."

"The confirmation of flu in our state reinforces the need for vaccination against this dangerous illness," said Jerry Gibson, M.D., director of DHEC's Bureau of Disease Control. "The vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age or older. It remains the single best way to prevent the flu.

"Flu season typically peaks in February in South Carolina. But you should get vaccinated as soon as possible to give your body time to strengthen its natural resistance to the virus before you're exposed," Dr. Gibson said. "We strongly recommend flu vaccine for anyone who wants to reduce their risk from flu and its complications."

Influenza is a naturally occurring viral disease that causes respiratory infections. Symptoms may include:

  • A sudden onset of fever
  • Dry cough
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion or stuffiness.

"You can reduce the chance of spreading flu and other viruses by covering your cough with a tissue or your sleeve, washing your hands often and staying home if you get sick," Dr. Gibson said. "It's never too late to get vaccinated against the flu."

DHEC is only one of many flu shot providers. Check to see if your medical provider is offering flu shots.

Prices for the vaccine vary. DHEC clinics charge $25, which Medicare and Medicaid will cover for those who provide proof of eligibility. However, the shot will be provided regardless of ability to pay. Medicare Advantage enrollees should contact their plans to learn whether a certain provider needs to provide the flu shot. Flu vaccine is also provided to eligible children and adolescents through the CDC’s Vaccine for Children program at many doctors' offices, community health centers and DHEC's county public health departments.

For more information about the flu in South Carolina, flu vaccination, clinic times and locations visit http://www.scdhec.gov/flu, or call DHEC at (803) 898-0460 or 1-800-277-4687.

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For media inquiries:
Adam Myrick – (803) 898-3884
Email – myrickar@dhec.sc.gov
MNR0548