If you are a South Carolina resident and are more than 6 months old, you are eligible to get a flu shot — for free.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is offering free flu shots on Friday at three locations across the state, according to a news release. The free vaccinations will be offered in the Upstate (Greenville), the Midlands (Lexington) and the Lowcountry (North Charleston).
“Getting your flu vaccine protects not only you, but your whole family and community,” DHEC Immunization Medical Consultant Dr. Tracy Foo said in the news release. “Last flu season was one of the worst in recent years and highlights the importance of getting your flu vaccine.”
During last flu season, there were 135,842 reported cases of influenza, according to DHEC. Of that number, 4,551 people were hospitalized and 292 people died. That was a significant rise in deaths over the 177 people who died the previous flu season.
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Symptoms of the flu can include a sudden onset of fever, dry cough, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat and nasal congestion or stuffiness, according to DHEC.
The best way to prevent the flu is by getting the flu vaccine, according to DHEC.
In spite of that recommendation, more than 61 percent of South Carolina residents did not get a flu shot last season, according to a study by Insurance Quotes.
Overall, more than 80,000 people died from the flu during the past season. The majority of those who died were over age 65, according to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which reported the majority of Americans do not get the flu shot every year.
Adults 50 and older are among the groups “at increased risk of complications from flu,” DHEC reported. Others at risk include young children and pregnant women among others.
For those worried about the flu shot making them sick, the Mayo Clinic says that is not true. You can’t get the flu from a flu shot.
“The flu vaccine is what we call a dead vaccine,” said Dr. Tina Ardon, a Mayo Clinic family medicine specialist. “The vaccine for influenza is one of the best defenses we have.”
The vaccine takes about two weeks to build up the body’s defenses against the virus, according to DHEC, which along with the CDC and the Mayo Clinic, urges people to get a flu shot.
No appointment is needed for the free flu shots across S.C. on Friday. Children under the age of 16 will need to have a parent or legal guardian present.
Free flu shot clinics on Friday
▪ Greenville : Grace Church, 2801 Pelham Road. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
▪ Lexington: Lexington County Health Department, 1070 S. Lake Drive. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
▪ North Charleston: R.B. Stall High School, 3625 Ashley Phosphate Road. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Source: South Carolina DHEC