The flu has arrived in South Carolina

According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, there have been five cases of the flu reported in the Midlands area of the state. DHEC is advising people to take precautionary steps that will help them avoid catching the virus.

Vaccination is at the top of the list. People should also cover their mouth when coughing, wash hands regularly, eat healthy, get plenty of rest and stay home when they're feeling ill to keep the virus from spreading, according to a news release.

"Vaccination remains the single best way to prevent the spread of flu," Dr. Bell said. "We recommend the flu vaccine for everyone six months of age or older. Flu season typically peaks in February in South Carolina. But you should get vaccinated as soon as possible to give your body time to strengthen its natural resistance to the virus before you are exposed. We strongly recommend flu vaccine for anyone who wants to reduce their risk from flu and its complications."

People should also be aware of the symptoms that accompany the virus which causes respiratory infections. Symptoms may include:

· A sudden onset of fever

· Dry cough

· Headache

· Muscle aches

· Tiredness

· Sore throat

· Nasal congestion or stuffiness.

DHEC will focus its resources on providing flu shots to people who are uninsured, under-insured, and those who cannot receive a flu vaccine anywhere else. There are many flu vaccine providers in local communities across South Carolina to serve people with health insurance and those who have the ability to pay for the vaccine. DHEC asks that individuals with Medicare, Medicaid or other type of health insurance coverage for the flu vaccine visit their health care provider or local pharmacy to get a flu shot.

To learn where and when influenza vaccine will be offered in your area, visit