COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Flu season is here and, if you haven’t gotten you’re flu shot yet, you might want to think twice about it.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control said in their latest report that it’s hitting South Carolina with full force this year. According to officials with the agency, South Carolina is one of seven states that’s being hit the hardest.
Dr. Anna Catherine Burch, a pediatric infectious diseases physician, said it’s important to take the flu seriously because it takes lives here in South Carolina every year.
“Really, the best way I like to describe it is you feel like you’ve been run over by a Mack truck,” Dr. Burch said.
Many South Carolinians are feeling that way right now, according to DHEC’s latest report.
The report found that the flu popped up in 14 counties across the state and sent more than 40 people to the hospital.
“I think people forget that influenza kills,” Dr. Burch said. “We’re not talking about just a couple here or a couple there.”
One person died from the flu in the last week of November, bringing the number of deaths this year to four in South Carolina. Three of those were in the Upstate and one was in the Pee Dee.
However, there are things you can do to protect yourself.
“The best way that you can prevent getting the flu both in yourself and in your family is to, number one, make sure that everyone is vaccinated, but you also want to make sure everyone has good hand hygiene and cough etiquette,” Dr. Burch said.
The flu vaccine does not guarantee protection against the flu, but it may make your illness milder.
“But what it can do is keep you out of the hospital and keep you from dying from the flu,” Dr. Burch said.
She also said that there are many myths about the vaccine.
“A lot of myths are out there where, ‘Oh, I can’t get my flu shot because every time I get my flu shot, it gives me the flu,’ which is a big myth,” Dr. Burch said.
She said it’s not too late in the season to get it. She said there are still about four months until the flu season is over.
Dr. Burch said the flu is spread by contact, which is part of the reason we see it in the winter because people are traveling during the holiday visiting friends and family and kids are at school.
DHEC reported that nearly 50 people had the flu last week across the state. That’s increased from the average during this time over the last five years, which falls to 36 people.