Given the widespread flu activity in South Carolina and across the nation, it is important for vulnerable populations, such as people 65 and older and those living with chronic medical conditions, to get vaccinated.
The flu is a serious health threat to people in those groups, who account for the majority of flu hospitalizations and deaths in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you live with or care for high-risk persons, it is important to take steps to protect yourself and those you care for during flu season.
Health care staff should get vaccinated
Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the flu, and DHEC and the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated annually.
It is recommended that health care workers be vaccinated against the flu. Some employers require vaccination. Staff in doctors’ offices, hospitals and long-term care facilities have direct or indirect contact with patients. Health care staff are at risk not only of becoming infected with influenza at work, but also of spreading it to patients and coworkers.
It’s important for staff to get vaccinated
Vaccination of long-term health care staff is especially important because most of their patients are elderly or have chronic health issues and are at higher risk of flu complications. Residents and staff in long-term care facilities often have regular close contact. According to the CDC, studies show that during a confirmed influenza outbreak in a long-term care facility, up to one in three residents and one in four staff develop an influenza-like illness.
Visit the CDC’s website to see how to improve vaccination coverage among long-term health care personnel. Visitors at the website also can access an influenza toolkit for long-term care employers.
You can still get a flu shot
It’s not too late to get your flu vaccine! Even if you don’t have a regular health care provider the flu vaccine is available in many settings. In addition to DHEC clinics, many local providers — including doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, college health centers, schools and workplaces — now offer flu vaccines. DHEC encourages everyone to find the facility that works best for them.
Flu vaccines offered at DHEC Health Department clinics are available by appointment. Call 1-800-868-0404 to make an appointment or go to scdhec.gov/flu/FluClinics to find the location closest to you. For more information about the flu, visit scdhec.gov/flu.