DHEC: Worst Flu Season In Years

Last year, 292 died in SC

South Carolina Radio Network
September 28, 2018 - 6:21 am
flu shot, immunization

usa today images


RENEE SEXTON (South Carolina Radio Network): As South Carolina state health officials prepare for another flu season, they’re looking back at one of the worst the state experienced in terms of hospitalizations and deaths in years.

“Last year’s flu season was one of the worst that we’ve seen in recent years,” says Dr. Teresa Foo, Medical Consultant for Immunizations at the Department of Health and Environmental Control. “We had a large number of deaths here in South Carolina, and nationally as well. So the same thing that was seen here in South Carolina with the severe season was seen nationally.”

According to DHEC records, 135,761 cases of the flu were reported in South Carolina through 44 weeks of the season, including 292 deaths and 4,549 people hospitalized.

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control reports about 80,000 people died from the flu, surpassing the previous record of 56,000 deaths.

Dr. Fu says the strain of the virus that was most common this past season is an aggressive one.  “That one tends to be a worse strain of the virus and it tends to cause more deaths, more severe illness, especially in older folks, which is some of the reason why we saw the higher deaths and hospitalizations.” 

Dr. Foo said another factor for the severity of the season is that the vaccine created for that particular aggressive virus is not as effective as vaccines are for other strains of the flu. “The vaccine is not as good against that strain of the virus and it has to do with how the vaccine is made.  That doesn’t mean that the vaccine doesn’t work, so it’s still important to get the vaccine.”

Dr. Foo says the best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated, especially children, elderly people and pregnant women, adding that most vaccines will protect from several strains of the flu.  “We’re hoping that because last year was so severe of a flu season that this year people will make sure that they’re getting protected. We never know what the flu season will bring. We can’t predict it. We can’t say ‘Oh, this is going to be better or this one’s going to be worse.'”

Comments ()