COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina has suffered its first flu deaths of the season.
The state Department of Health and Environmental reports Tuesday that four people in the state have died of flu-associated illnesses. The deaths were reported in the Upstate, Pee Dee and Lowcountry.
Officials say the flu season is just beginning and usually peaks in February.
DHEC is urging people older than six months to be vaccinated against this year's strain of the flu. It takes about two weeks after being vaccinated for the body to build up resistance to the flu.
The news release states in addition to receiving an annual flu vaccination, South Carolinians are encouraged to take the following preventive measures:
- Staying away from people who are sick.
- Staying home from work, school and errands if you are sick. By doing so, you will help keep others from getting sick, too.
- Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue if one is handy. Throw it away immediately after use. Otherwise, use the crook of your elbow.
- Washing your hands often and thoroughly.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when someone touches something that is covered with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
"Other good habits include getting plenty of exercise and sleep, managing your stress, drinking water and eating good food to help you stay healthy in the winter and all year," the news release states.