With flu season rapidly approaching, hospitals and clinics across the Lowcountry are gearing up to offer flu shots in the coming weeks.
South Carolina's first documented, lab-confirmed flu case was reported by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control last month.
DHEC will begin offering flu shots statewide Sept. 23, spokeswoman Lindsey Evans said. That flu shot will be a new type of vaccine that protects against four flu strains: A-H1N1, A-H3N2 and two strains of influenza B. Last month's flu case was determined to be an H3N2 strain, according to DHEC.
However, the agency is asking people with health insurance or Medicare to get flu shots from a pharmacy or their health care provider, as DHEC is focusing on vaccinating the underinsured or uninsured, Evans said.
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Flu shots typically cost $25, but are free with Medicare, Medicaid and certain health insurance plans.
No flu vaccine shortage is expected this year, as manufacturers have pledged to produce between 135 and 139 million doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Beaufort County saw two deaths from the flu during last year's flu season, Evans said.
Most pharmacies already have flu-shot stocks available, but two local hospitals also are offering the shots.
Coastal Carolina Hospital has already begun offering flu shots at its onsite clinic, Coastal Carolina Medical Associates, spokeswoman Carolyn Grant said.
Hilton Head Hospital will have two flu-shot clinics in early October -- Oct. 4 in the hospital's lobby and Oct. 11 at the Bluffton-Okatie Outpatient Center, according to a hospital news release.
Appointments are necessary to get flu shots at both locations, and can be made by calling 843-784-8293 for Coastal Carolina Hospital and 877-582-2737 for Hilton Head Hospital.
Staff writer Joey Holleman of The State contributed to this report.
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.
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