Flu vaccination is low in SC because the virus is uncontrolled. Health

Only 1 in 5 people in South Carolina is vaccinated against the flu as the virus continues to fill doctors’ offices and hospitals. But with the holidays in full swing, doctors say, it’s a good time to get the shot and be safe.

With a huge early surge of flu, the worst start to the season in a decade, only 21.2 percent of the Palmetto State’s population, about 1.1 million people, had received the seasonal vaccination, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

This includes only 14.5 percent of children and 14.9 percent of adults under the age of 65. Nearly half of seniors — 49 percent — had been vaccinated, the DHEC reported. Those low rates can have consequences, especially for children, said Dr. Elizabeth Mack said.

“We’re not really seeing any kids in the hospital with the flu who have been vaccinated,” she said.

The state generally does not track flu vaccinations during the season. But because of this season’s particularly heavy start, DHEC will begin posting data every two weeks, said Linda Bell, state epidemiologist.

“Our hope is that more South Carolinians will decide to roll up their sleeves and get their flu shot,” she said. Flu levels are particularly high in Charleston County and the Columbia, Greenville and Myrtle Beach areas, according to DHEC data.

Dr. Jane Appleby, chief medical officer of Trident Health, said the flu is not only affecting patients but also employees, who may be sick or at home caring for sick children or spouses.

“We’ve seen an influenza-like illness affecting our families, our workforce and the community in general,” she said.

According to an analysis by The Post and Courier, there could be some respite or a reduction in the levels of flu and Covid. Compared to the previous week, the number of samples tested positive for the flu in the state laboratory declined by 22.7 percent, and the number of hospitalizations declined by 25.5 percent for the week ending Nov. 19, according to the analysis. Found in Compared to the previous week, there was a 5.2 percent drop in COVID-19 cases and a 14.4 percent drop in hospitalizations.

Appleby said that in the three counties surrounding Charleston, community transmission of COVID-19 was at a moderate level, down from high or substantial levels two weeks ago.

“We’re not seeing as much COVID as before,” she said.

Nationally, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 23,153 for the week ending November 18, down 4.4 per cent from the previous week. There were 2,222 deaths, a 5.3 percent weekly decline, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Experts say early surge could usher in 'severe flu season' as other viruses pile up

Unfortunately, that’s not true at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, Mack said.

“We haven’t seen a drop in the number of children being admitted to hospital, at least here in the Lowcountry,” he said on 23 November. with children with respiratory viruses.”

While some people across the country are talking about a “tripledemic” from flu, COVID​ and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), children are coming down with a wide range of others, such as parainfluenza, enterovirus and Human metapneumovirus, Mack said.

Resurgence of childhood virus in South Carolina is filling ICU beds with sick children

“We’re looking at all of those as well,” she said. Mack said this has led to capacity issues at children’s hospitals not only across the state, but across the country. But they find a way to provide beds.

“We don’t count the hallways as part of the capacity and yet that’s what we’re doing,” Mack said. “The sick children are not being turned away. We will find a place for them somewhere.”

These types of issues typically arise later in the season, as the holidays begin, people congregate more, and viruses take advantage.

“Especially with the Thanksgiving holiday, with people getting together to celebrate, it is very easy to pass on a viral illness,” Appleby said. So if someone hasn’t gotten their shot yet, “this is the perfect time to do it,” she said.

And it’s never too late to get it, the doctors said.

“I do vaccinations every day in the ICU,” Mack said. “It’s not too late for sure.”

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