Preparing for the 2018 Flu Season

After the severity and widespread effects of last year's influenza strains, South Carolina hospitals are taking a proactive approach 

The official start of flu season isn’t until November 1, but South Carolina hospitals are already in full preparation mode. 

Last year’s seasonal bout of influenza looms in the minds of many healthcare workers thanks to its overwhelming impact on the state. DHEC records indicate that there were over 130,000 incidents of the flu here in South Carolina, with nearly 300 deaths and close to 5,000 people hospitalized. Those numbers represent a roughly 300% increase in the spread and severity from the year before, and a fivefold increase from the year before that. 

“KershawHealth saw a record number of patients,” says April Wach, the director of the emergency department at the hospital. “It was a busy season and seemed to last longer than previous seasons.  And it was the first season the CDC classified as ‘high severity across all age groups.’”

Wach says the hospital typically sees the most flu patients in January through March, but that they are increasingly proactive in preparing for the possibility of an early spread.       

“We have actually already seen some flu cases testing positive around the state for the 2018 flu season,” she notes. “KershawHealth has already begun flu shot screenings on all ER, admitted, and outpatient patients. We have also begun giving our “mandatory” flu shots to employees in preparation for the upcoming season.”

Wach encourages all citizens to get a flu shot, noting that the most effective thing an average citizen can get to stem the tide of the virus is to vaccinate yourself and regularly wash your hands.

“Get the flu shot,” she urges. “It may not only save your life, but it could also save a loved one’s life. The flu can actually present at any time, so staying prepared is always the most important measure for keeping our communities and families safe.”

For the latest information on the 2018 flu season, head to the CDC and SC DHEC flu websites.