By Cassandra Harris
This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week, and a great reminder that it’s not too late to get the flu vaccine. As you begin to prepare for this holiday season, take a moment to learn how you can protect yourself and the ones you love from the flu.
The flu can mean missed days at work or school, doctor’s visits, or worse for you and your family. From Sept. 28, 2014 to Dec. 06, 2014 (the current 2014-2015 flu season), there have been 5,827 lab confirmed cases of the flu reported in South Carolina, including over 300 confirmed hospitalizations and seven deaths. While certain people are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu, individuals 6 months of age and older, including healthy adults, can benefit from receiving their yearly flu vaccine.
The CDC and DHEC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get an annual flu vaccine; it is the single best way to prevent seasonal flu. Even if you don’t have a regular health care provider you can still get the flu vaccine. In addition to DHEC, many local providers — including doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, college health centers, schools, and workplaces — now offer flu vaccines. We encourage everyone to find the facility that works best for them.
In addition to receiving your yearly flu vaccination, there are several steps you can take to help fight the flu:
- Staying away from people who are sick.
- Staying home from work, school, and errands if you are sick. By doing so, you will help keep others from getting sick, too.
- Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue if one is handy. Throw it away immediately after use. Otherwise, use the crook of your elbow.
- Washing your hands often and thoroughly.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when someone touches something that is covered with germs and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
Protect yourself. Protect your family. Get the flu vaccine.
For more information about the flu, and to learn how you can protect you and your family this season, go to http://www.scdhec.gov/flu.