Flu season starting earlier than normal ‘atypical’, doctors encourage getting flu shot

Whether it is new or returning, Hill says more people are coming in for flu tests and flu vaccines.
A Fort Mill doctor says the numbers are about 200 percent higher than the traditional numbers for the month of October.
Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 6:15 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FORT MILL, S.C. (WBTV) -The flu has been a topic of discussion recently as more people are getting tested for the disease and coming up positive.

South Carolina is one of the many states that are seeing increases in flu activity across the state. Over the last three weeks, cases in the state have quadrupled. Because of that, South Carolina doctors are hoping more people will get the flu shot after an early start to the flu season.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of patients,” says Olivia Hill, who is Carolina Pharmacy’s Pharmacy Manager.

Whether it is new or returning, Hill says more people are coming in for flu tests and flu vaccines.

Also Read: RSV and flu cases hitting Charlotte daycare as numbers climb statewide

”Flu is definitely hitting the community. And people are coming in to get tested not feeling great not really sure what they’re looking at and they’ll test positive for the flu,” she says.

Another place seeing a lot of that flu activity is Piedmont Medical Center’s Fort Mill emergency department.

”The flu has double or tripled what our normal volumes would be right now,” says Emergency Room Doctor Dr. Nicholas Demers.

Demers says more people than normal means more concern about resources being swallowed up even faster.

”It comes down to availability of bed space for us. Our hospital networks that we coordinate through are seeing decreased availability of pediatric beds as well as some adult beds for those sicker patients,” he says.

DHEC says there are increases in the flu in all four regions in South Carolina. DHEC’s Dr. Jonathan Knoche says this year there have already been 8,600 cases.bLast year this time, he says only 53. Knoche says the strain this year is not necessarily worse than other years and symptoms are not so bad it’s driving more people to the hospital. It is just the number of people getting it already that has those numbers steadily rising already. He answered what could be some of the contributing factors to the increase.

”Some of it is that people are more in the normal routine of things. As the weather gets cooler people move indoors. But we’re also I think seeing strains of flu that are spreading more quickly, more easily,” he says/

Demers also says that right now, flu patients are outpacing COVID patients for those beds and resources.

”The last variant has just wound down some. Although there are still COVID patients coming, the flu patients are our primary concern and making up a large volume of what we’re seeing,” he says.

DHEC says symptoms for people aren’t necessarily more severe but the number of people getting sick has increased hospitalization. It could be an indicator of what the flu season will look like in the middle of winter.

”As the flu epidemic becomes more and more we expect we will see more hospitalizations and then when impatient beds become tight it becomes more of an issue,” says Demers.

Unlike during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Demers encourages people with flu-like symptoms to come to the emergency department to get tested. DHEC says the best way to prevent getting the flu or getting very sick from the disease is to get your flu shot which the agency is encouraging people to do.