Category Archives: Public Health

Protect yourself, others against the flu during National Influenza Vaccination Week

By Linda Bell, M.D.
Director, Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control
State Epidemiologist

With the spirit of giving resting upon us during this holiday season, there is no better public gift you can give than providing flu vaccinations for yourself and your family. The annual flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Although we are already two months into the flu season, it is not too late to get vaccinated. As a matter of fact, with this being National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 2-8) this is a perfect time to get vaccinated.

This is about more than avoiding the flu so you won’t be forced to miss the annual Christmas party. Illness with the flu can cause hospitalization or even death. Each flu

L.Bell headshot

Dr. Linda Bell

season is unique; the timing of the peak activity and how severe a season will be are hard to predict, making it very important to protect yourself against flu as early as possible.

 

Last year’s flu season was one of the worst we’ve seen in recent years, with a high number of deaths and hospitalizations here in South Carolina and across the nation. It is important to get vaccinated now, before any significant spread of the flu virus begins in our community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DHEC recommend that everyone 6 months old and older get a yearly flu vaccine. Even if you don’t have a regular health care provider, the 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. Find the facility that works best for you.

Some people are more likely to get serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia or inflammation of the heart or brain. This includes infants and young children, older adults, pregnant women and anyone with chronic medical conditions like asthma, heart or lung disease and diabetes. Making sure that you — and those in these vulnerable groups — are vaccinated will provide much needed protection.

There are significant benefits to getting the flu vaccine:

  • It gives your body the ability to fight the flu if you are exposed to someone who is ill.
  • It is effective in protecting against several different strains of the flu that circulate each season.
  • It offers lasting protection against the flu for at least six to eight months.
  • It is the only protection shown to reduce hospitalization and deaths caused by the flu.

In addition to receiving an annual flu vaccine, take other preventive measures, such as avoiding people who are sick and staying home from work, school and other places if you are sick. Also, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands often and thoroughly.

Other habits that can help you stay healthy year round include getting plenty of exercise and sleep, managing your stress, drinking water and eating nutritious foods.

But we can’t overlook the critical role immunizations play in protecting children, families and communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. Whether it’s getting young children vaccinated against diseases such as whooping cough and measles, ensuring teens are protected against conditions such as HPV, or making sure those in your circle get vaccinated against the flu, immunizations help us stay healthy.

So, don’t forget your flu shot. The protection it will provide for you and others around you will be one of the best gifts you will give this holiday season.

For more information about the flu and to find a clinic near you visit www.scdhec.gov/flu.

DHEC in the News: Flu, US life expectancy

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

It’s not too late to protect yourself and others with a flu shot

With the spirit of giving resting upon us during this holiday season, there is no better public gift you can give than providing flu vaccinations for yourself and your family.

The annual flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones, and although we are already two months into the flu season, it is not too late to get vaccinated.

General Interest

Suicide, Drug Overdose Rates Bring US Life Expectancy Down

The suicide rate in the United States is at its highest in at least 50 years, and is contributing to a decrease in the nation’s life expectancy, the federal government said Thursday.

Life expectancy for the U.S. population declined to 78.6 in 2017, down from 78.7 the previous year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a new report.

Walking for World Diabetes Day

DHECDiabetesObservance 2018

Every year, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes in the United States and many additional cases go undiagnosed. In South Carolina, the prevalence of diabetes is about 20 percent higher than the national average.

Diabetes can lead to other serious health conditions, including stroke, heart disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, swelling and edema. Women who had gestational diabetes and their children are more at risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Aside from all of the health risks, diabetes is more expensive. In fact, the average medical expenses among those with diagnosed diabetes is over two times higher than those without diabetes. The good news is that diabetes can be delayed or prevented by eating healthy and staying active.

On Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, DHEC staff from the Mills Jarrett complex in Columbia walked together in observance of World Diabetes Day. (The walk was postponed from the actual date of observance — Nov. 14 — due to rain.) The first sunny day all week, it was a great opportunity to get outside and learn more about World Diabetes Day, which occurs during National Diabetes Month.

The World Diabetes Day campaign focuses on a theme that runs for one or more years and the theme for 2018-19 is Family and Diabetes, which fits in nicely with the theme for National Diabetes Month this year, Promoting Health After Gestational Diabetes.

Employees received different “did you know…” facts about diabetes. While the facts will not teach them everything they need to know about testing or warning signs, the information will at least get the conversation started and hopefully encourage employees to not only think about their health, but the health of their family. With the holiday season in full swing, it is a good time to think about ways to stay healthy during celebrations and have open conversations with family members about health.

For some tips on staying healthy over the holidays, consider the following:

  • Avoid overeating. You can eat a healthy meal before going to a party or practice self-control by only indulging in your favorite treats in moderation.
  • Stay active. Either keep up your normal routine or even try incorporating walks into your gatherings.
  • Keep your stress levels lower. Remember to take time for yourself and relax both your body and mind.

To learn more about World Diabetes Day, visit worlddiabetesday.org and for more information on American Diabetes Month, visit diabetes.org/in-my-community/american-diabetes-month.

From Other Blogs: WIC, epilepsy, breast cancer & more

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

Customer Service, Partnership Support A Healthier Start in Life

Getting out into our nation’s communities and witnessing the impact federal nutrition programs have on lives leaves a lasting impression. On a recent trip to Vermont, I saw firsthand how USDA supports America’s nutrition safety net, helping a new generation of Americans get a healthier start in life. Thanks to programs like WIC, participating mothers and their children can look forward to a brighter future. — From the US Department of Agriculture blog

Facts about Epilepsy

Epilepsy is common, but how much do you know about it? Get facts about this condition from neurologist Walter H. Peters, MD, Palmetto Health-USC Neurology.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder of the central nervous system in which abnormal electrical discharges in the brain can cause seizures or periods of unusual behavior, including loss of awareness or consciousness. It is estimated that 65 million people worldwide live with the disorder. One-in-26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime and anyone can develop it, though children and the elderly are at the highest risk. — From Flourish, Palmetto Health’s blog

Meet the Patients: A Breast Cancer Survivor Story

Beth Addison is a mom of two teenage girls. She was diagnosed with breast cancer one year ago after a 3-D mammogram at Lexington Medical Center.

She underwent a year of treatment that included chemotherapy at Lexington Oncology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

Beth also was featured as a model in our Women’s Night Out fashion show this year. — From Lexington Medical Center’s official blog

FDA’s Global Efforts to Protect Patients and Consumers from Unsafe Products

Even in this modern era, when so much can be done remotely, there are many tangible benefits to having “boots on the ground” when doing business overseas. That’s the thinking behind the FDA’s foreign offices, which play a vital role in inspecting foreign manufacturing facilities, gathering market and industry information, and building closer relationships with local regulatory bodies, all in the interests of protecting the public health of Americans.

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of FDA’s first foreign office, in Beijing. — From the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) blog

A Mini-Symposium on Cumulative Risk Assessment in the Occupational Setting

Many of us in the occupational safety and health field have likely faced an issue similar to this: The workers in my plant are exposed to both noise and solvents. I’ve read that both of these exposures can interact to cause hearing loss. How should I control these exposures to reduce the risk of occupational hearing loss? If I control each of the exposures to their relevant occupational exposure limits, is that good enough? Or should I control these exposures to levels below their occupational exposure limits? If so, by how much?

Identifying and evaluating the combined effects of multiple exposures, known as cumulative risk assessment (CRA), is a tricky challenge. — From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) NIOSH Science Blog

DHEC in the News: World Aids Day, flu,WIC

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

DHEC to offer testing on World Aids Day

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– World AIDS Day is Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 and the Health officials are encouraging South Carolinians to get tested.

Second flu-related death confirmed in South Carolina this season

Columbia, SC (WLTX) – A second person has died from the flu in South Carolina during the 2018 flu season.

The victim was 65 years or older, and from the Lowcountry region, according to DHEC. The first flu-related death in the state was also recorded in the Lowcountry earlier this month.

Town of Carlisle to host WIC

CARLISLE — WIC will be in Carlisle this Wednesday and will return there each month.

In a statement released Monday, Town Administrator Shannon McBride announced that “WIC will be coming to Carlisle Town Hall on Wednesday, November 28, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. They will also be coming here on a monthly basis.”