Tag Archives: flu shot

Keeping watch over flu activity is critical to limiting its damage

Flu seasons such as the one South Carolina and the nation have been enduring reminds us why it is so important to monitor flu activity.

Severe flu seasons can be devastating, and even milder influenza seasons cause missed work and school time, hospitalizations and deaths.

Keeping an eye on diseases

Each year, DHEC and U.S. public health experts monitor influenza and other diseases. This activity is called disease surveillance.

Surveillance of influenza plays a big role in understanding the spread of the disease, as well as the severity of potential epidemics. Although surveillance can tell us the trend of influenza illness in South Carolina, it cannot tell us exactly how many cases of flu there are in the state.  This is because not everyone who gets the flu goes to the doctor to get tested, and we have no way of monitoring unreported cases of flu.

Flu surveillance allows DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see what impact flu is having on the health of residents. In South Carolina, influenza surveillance consists of several components. Each component provides different types of information about influenza; together, they create a solid overview of influenza activity in the state.

The benefits of surveillance

Surveillance helps us to:

  • Understand which new flu viruses are circulating in South Carolina (The types of influenza virus that infect people often change from one flu season to the next.);
  • Establish when the influenza virus first appears in the state and also when it decreases;
  • Determine where in the state the influenza virus is circulating; and
  • Understand what types of vaccines are most likely to succeed the following year.

DHEC produces a weekly summary of reported influenza activity in South Carolina in a report called Flu Watch. Visit the DHEC website for more information and the latest update of Flu Watch. Also, visit the CDC’s website for national statistics on flu.

Protect yourself

DHEC and CDC recommend that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine, because it is the best way to combat the flu. It is also important to take other preventive actions, such as limiting contact with sick people and washing your hands frequently.

DHEC in the News: Toy safety tips, shigella disease, flu shot safe for people with egg allergies

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

On Your Side: Top 10 Toy Safety Tips

(WRDW/WAGT) — South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and News 12 NBC 26 want you to have a safe, great holiday.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 174,100 toy-related ER-treated injuries associated with toys to children under the age of 15 in 2016 alone.

Parents warned about contagious shigella disease at one Midlands school

SWANSEA, SC (WIS) – Lexington School District 4 and the state’s Department of Health and Environment Control have issued a letter to parents of Lexington Early Childhood Center students warning them of a potential contact with the Shigella bacteria.

The letter is posted on the school’s website. The letter, dated Dec. 15, says that some people associated with the school may have the disease that causes gastroenteritis, diarrhea, high fever, stomach cramps, or tenderness. It can impact other body systems and the intestines as well.

General Interest

Flu shot safe for people with egg allergies, government panel says

People with egg allergies don’t have to worry about getting the flu shot, new government guidelines say.

Because the vaccine contains egg protein, doctors used to advise against the shot entirely or to get it only in the presence of an allergist if someone had a known allergy. But a national panel of experts said Tuesday that egg allergies shouldn’t prevent anyone from getting the shot and that reactions to the vaccine are no more likely among those with allergies than anyone else.

DHEC in the News: Toy safety, flu, type 2 diabetes

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

Select safe, age-appropriate toys for a Merry Christmas

‘Tis the season for giving.

While Santa is preparing to bring tots the trendiest toys for Christmas, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control wants to remind parents that safety should be a top priority this holiday.

In 2016, there were more than 174,100 toy-related injuries – treated in the emergency room – associated with children younger than 15, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Physicians stress flu shots after two influenza deaths

Columbia, S.C. (WACH) — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is urging South Carolinians to get their flu shot.

We are now in the thick of what officials call the “peak flu season”, between the months of December and February. It is the time frame where a good portion of influenza cases manifest.

Officials in the state are particularly concerned, after two deaths thus far this South Carolina flu season, according to DHEC stats. One of those deaths was in the Midlands, the other in the Upstate.

14 tips for preventing type 2 diabetes in children

Thirty years ago, type 2 diabetes was rare in children. Now, unfortunately, it is commonplace.

This is partially due to lifestyle choices where convenience has become the norm. Fast food is available on every corner, we don’t walk far for anything, and active outdoor playtime has given way to cellphones and tablets, video-game systems and TV screen time.

These unhealthy choices have led to endemic sedentary routines and a rise in weight gain, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Many parents are aware of these issues but might find it difficult to figure out lasting solutions.

Help keep the flu off the holiday party guest list: Get vaccinated

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

There’s nothing like all the hugs, kisses and displays of affection we’re sure to get from family and friends during various holiday parties, family gatherings and visits with friends and neighbors.

Unfortunately, all of that merrymaking can sometimes invite an unwelcomed guest: the flu.

No one wants the flu at any time, let alone during the holidays. The contagious disease can lead to hospitalization — and even death.

There’s still time to get your flu vaccine

If you haven’t done so, it’s not too late to get vaccinated and give yourself the gift that provides the best protection from the flu. The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccine.

Each flu 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.

Although it is relatively early in this flu season, influenza activity in South Carolina at this point has been higher than normal.  The number of influenza-associated hospitalizations reported in individuals in the 65 years and older age group is nearly double the average number of cases reported over the past five flu seasons.

That is why vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for those 65 years and older, as well as other people who are at high risk of severe flu illness and serious complications from influenza. Other groups who are at high risk include children 5 and younger, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease. But it’s important to remember that even healthy people who get the flu can have serious complications, like pneumonia, hospitalization or even death.

National Influenza Vaccination Week

This is National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 3-9), and there is no better time to remind not only older adults, but everyone to get their annual flu vaccine. It’s the single best way to protect yourselves and your loved ones from the flu this holiday season — and throughout the year.

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.

Here’s why vaccination is important

There is no shortage of reasons for getting the vaccine:

  • The flu vaccine gives your body the ability to protect itself against the flu because you cannot predict when you might be exposed to someone who is ill. Getting vaccinated yourself also protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.
  • Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits and missed work and school due to flu.
  • While good hand washing practices are always recommended, they only provide limited protection. Flu vaccines offer lasting protection against the flu for the entire flu season.
  • The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations and deaths.

Take preventive measures against the flu

In addition to receiving an annual flu vaccine, South Carolinians are encouraged to take the following preventive measures:

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home from work, school and errands if you are sick to avoid getting others sick.
  • Cover 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 to cover yourself.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. You can become infected by touching one of these areas after touching something that is covered in germs.

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

Do your part to help keep the flu off the guest list this holiday season. Get vaccinated.

DHEC in the News: Flu shots, women’s health disparities, ‘Healthy Churches’ conference

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

Put flu shot on the list of musts

While unusual health threats of all types make headlines, the public should not fail to be proactive against a common illness that contributes to the deaths of 3,000 to 50,000 individuals every year depending on the severity of the season.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The flu can cause mild to severe illness and can be deadly — especially to vulnerable people, including the very young, the elderly and those with certain chronic health conditions. Symptoms can include a sudden onset of fever, dry cough, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat, and nasal congestion or stuffiness.

OnPoint on WACH Fox: Health disparities and SC women

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) – This week on OnPoint on WACH Fox we examine health disparities and women in South Carolina.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control offers something called the Best Chance Network and it is pulling women out of the shadows to help save lives.

‘Healthy Churches’ national conference planned for Hilton Head to address health disparities

Pernessa Seele, who grew up in Lincolnville, found herself a long way from the Lowcountry at the height of the AIDS crisis.

An immunologist by training, Seele worked with HIV/AIDS patients in New York City in the 1980s and couldn’t help but wonder why churches weren’t doing more to educate their congregations about the growing epidemic. …

In November, Seele will bring Balm in Gilead’s national Healthy Churches conference to Hilton Head.