Tag Archives: National Influenza Vaccination Week

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: National Influenza Vaccination Week, Christmas toy safety tips, carpet recycling

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

National Influenza Vaccination Week highlights importance of continuing flu vaccination

Haven’t protected against the flu by getting vaccinated? It’s not too late.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is highlighting the importance of the flu vaccine this week, which has been designated National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 3 to 9).

The CDC established the week in 2005 “to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond,” a time that recent flu season statistics show few people get vaccinated, according to its website.

DHEC of South Carolina offers Christmas toy safety tips

(WFXG) – Tis the season for giving and while Santa is preparing to bring the hottest and trendiest toys to children for Christmas, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) wants to remind parents that safety should be a top priority this holiday.

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

General Interest

Carpet Recycling Increases Much Needed Landfill Space

Within the construction and demolition industry, carpet recycling remains top of mind for industry players. As such, states such as California, and organizations such as the Carpet American Recovery Effort (CARE), are leading the charge in establishing carpet recycling programs that will lessen the affect carpeting discards have on the environment.

According to the most recent annual report from CARE, the organization’s members diverted more than more than 488 million pounds of carpet from U.S. landfills in 2016, down nearly 6 percent from 2015. Of the carpet diverted to recycling, 167 million pounds were recycled into carpet and other consumer products, 174 million pounds were sent back to the landfill, and 144 million pounds were sent to waste-to-energy and cement kilns.

National Influenza Vaccination Week

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

With the holiday season upon us, please include staying healthy among all the other plans you make for this time of year.  We are already two months into flu season; if you haven’t already done so: Get vaccinated against the flu.

This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week, a timely reminder that your annual flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourselves and your loved ones from the flu this holiday season — and throughout the year. Catching the flu during the holidays could be more than just an inconvenience; illness with the flu can be life-threatening.  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.

The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention and DHEC recommend that everyone six months of age and older get a yearly 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.

Why get 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.
  • Flu vaccines are very effective in protecting against several different strains of the flu that circulate each season when well matched to circulating flu strains.
  • While good hand washing practices are always recommended, they only provide temporary protection. Flu vaccines offer lasting protection against the flu for at least six to eight months.
  • The flu vaccine is the only protection shown to reduce hospitalization and deaths caused by the flu.

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

  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Stay home from work and school, as well as refrain from errands, if you are sick to help keep others from getting sick too.
  • 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 keep germs off of your hands and surfaces that you touch.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly to prevent the flu and many other diseases.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs easily enter the body and cause infection when someone touches something that is covered with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.

Please consider other habits to stay healthy year round, including getting plenty of exercise and sleep, managing your stress, drinking water and eating nutritious foods.

Visit DHEC’s website for more information about the flu and to find a clinic near you www.scdhec.gov/flu.