CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows heightened illness levels in seven states, including South Carolina.

News13 spoke with a local doctor at Conway Medical Center on preventative measures you can take to protect yourself as well as some common misconceptions surrounding the flu vaccine.

One of the largest misconceptions most people believe is that you can get the flu from the vaccine.

Dr. Heber Watson with CMC Primary Care said you may get flu like symptoms, but that is just a side effect and not the actual virus.

“Making sure that you take others health into consideration as well,” Watson said. “Because the flu vaccine helps you, but it also helps you not give it to other people as well.”

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Enviornmental Control’s flu watch report, more than 3,000 lab confirmed flu cases have been reported this year.

The largest increase of cases happened last week at 1,081. Flu rates in the area are tracked by lab confirmed cases.

“I would say after about 48 hours of symptoms, if it’s not improving, you definitely need to go get tested because then there is a certain window for treatment of the flu as well,” Watson said.

There have been 57 hospitalizations and one death from the flu virus in the area. Covid and RSV are also floating around.

“It is possible that you get all three,” Watson said. “We don’t see that very often. But it doesn’t mean that that it cannot happen. The CDC has actually recommended that you get the COVID vaccine and the flu vaccine, you can get them together because it helps with the prevention and the transmission of both of those viruses.”

A new RSV vaccination was released this year.

The CDC said flu vaccination rates are down in the United States compared to last year with only around 35% of adults and 33% of children reported to have the flu shot. South Carolina has begun tracking flu vaccination numbers, but they won’t be released until next week.

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Savannah Denton joined News 13 in July 2023 as a reporter and producer. Savannah is from Atlanta, Georgia, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. Follow Savannah on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of her work here