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Midlands child who died was SC’s first pediatric flu-related death of season, DHEC says

State - 10/31/2022

A child from the Midlands suffered South Carolina’s first pediatric flu-related death of the season, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said Monday.

Information on the child’s age and where they lived in the Midlands was not available.

“It’s sad and unfortunate that we must report the death of a child in the Midlands Region from the complications of the flu,” Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist and DHEC’s Director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control, said in a news release. “We extend our condolences to this family.”

While the flu can circulate any time of year, for surveillance purposes, the season begins Oct. 1.

“Although we are early in the season, we have been seeing widespread flu activity since the first week,” Bell said. “This suggests we could have a severe flu season, and we all must take actions to protect ourselves and others.”

DHEC said the best protection against the illness is the flu shot.

DHEC and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older who is eligible get vaccinated. It takes about two weeks for the body to build up protection after getting the flu vaccine, so it’s important to get vaccinated soon to prevent more illnesses since flu has already spread widely in South Carolina and other states, according to the release.

“People 65 and over, young children and people with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of complications from the flu. But complications can unpredictably occur even among young and previously healthy people,” Bell said.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses, according to DHEC. Symptoms can include a sudden onset of fever, cough, headache or muscle aches, tiredness, sore throat and nasal congestion or stuffiness. The flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.

The active flu season coincides with ongoing COVID-19 cases and an elevated number of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, cases, according to the release. The same preventive methods that protect against COVID-19 also protect against the flu virus: vaccination, masks, frequent handwashing, and staying home or away for others while sick, DHEC said.

For those who have not had either of the two, it is safe to receive the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time, according to the release.

Low or no cost flu vaccines offered at DHEC health department clinics are available by appointment. Call 1-855-472-3432 to make an appointment or go to to find the nearest location.

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