S.C. health experts: ‘This is the most important flu shot of your life’

Updated: Oct. 12, 2020 at 5:14 PM EDT
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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - Health experts have a warning as the peak of flu season is fast approaching: you can get both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

That is why they are urging the flu shot this year more than ever.

South Carolina health experts are calling it the most important flu shot in your life. They say it is critical to stay healthy during the pandemic. Interim health director Dr. Brannon Traxler calls the coronavirus the worst public health crisis in 100 years. Cases in South Carolina continue to rise with some of the highest numbers happening over the last weekend since around September.

Flu season starts ramping up in October.

“If that were to occur it could likely cause more complications for an individual than if the flu alone were the only infection," says Dr. Linda Bell, the state’s epidemiologist.

DHEC health officials say getting a flu shot will keep hospitals from being overwhelmed with patients. As of Sunday, about 80 percent of hospital beds are being used. In WBTV’s viewing area, all four of the counties have over 70 percent of beds filled. York County has the highest at 91 percent.

More than 3,300 people have died from coronavirus this year in South Carolina alone. In addition to those high numbers, South Carolina’s epidemiologist wants you to be aware of the flu. Since 2014, an average of 140 have died from the flu in the state each year.

COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in South Carolina compared to the ones in 2018. The only two in front of it is cancer and heart disease.

“It’s a scary thing. It really is," says Aisha Loveless, who has protected her family from COVID-19 since the beginning. “It does make me nervous. Absolutely and my family and I have to work and they have to go to school and my health is involved.”

Anyone six months and up can get the flu vaccine. It is recommended for anyone over the age of 65, pregnant people and children under 5. Despite the urges from health officials some, like Loveless, say they might not get.

“I did get the flu two years ago and it was not a fun experience," she says. "But I don’t feel like the flu shot is what keeps you from getting the flu.”

Loveless' mind is just one of the many DHEC’s state epidemiologist Linda Bell is trying to change.

“No one should forget the alarm we experience each and every year when we start seeing flu cases and deaths pop up," says Bell. “Many generations before us would have given anything to have a flu vaccine and so we must use the vaccine that medical science has afforded us.”

Loveless says she is waiting to do more research before she takes a needle to the arm.

“If it’s out for a while and I see that it’s working, then yes I probably would," says Loveless.

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