By FOX Carolina Staff
COLUMBIA, S.C.Flu is widespread in South Carolina, the state Health Department said Thursday.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control said since October there have been 7,654 positive rapid flu tests from health care providers and 102 lab-confirmed cases. The department said 234 people have been hospitalized because of influenza and eight people have died from the illness.
Dr. Jerry Gibson, director of DHEC's Bureau of Disease Control, said this year's flu season appears to be more typical than the H1N1 virus that was seen during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
"Many people don't realize that the flu causes mild to severe respiratory illness and can be deadly," Gibson said. "We strongly encourage anyone 6 months or older to be vaccinated."
DHEC said the flu vaccine is available in either shot or nasal spray form from private providers and public health departments.
"If you get your vaccine, it'll help protect you," said Susan Boeker, a private health care provider. "If you haven't gotten it, please go ahead and get it."
"Vaccination is especially important for the very young, the elderly and chronic health conditions that might put them at higher risk of serious illness," Gibson said. "Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family."
DHEC said South Carolina's flu season typically peaks in February.
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