MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) — State health officials are making efforts to get more South Carolina residents vaccinated during one of the earliest, most active flu seasons in recent years.

According to South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), South Carolina has experienced over 100 times the number of flu cases — and nearly 50 times more hospitalizations from the flu — so far in 2022 compared to this time last year.

“We’re particularly concerned because 85% of South Carolinians under the age of 65 have not gotten their flu shot,” said Dr. Jonathan Knoche, DHEC medical consultant.

The latest data from DHEC reports 23,343 lab-confirmed cases, 1,003 hospitalizations and 11 flu-related deaths so far this season.

At this time of the year in 2021, though, there were only 219 cases, 21 hospitalizations and 1 death.

Typically, DHEC does not track how many people have gotten their flu shot each year.

However, in response to this year’s high flu activity, the department will begin publishing how many vaccinations have been administered in South Carolina.

Health officials said they hope providing more public health data will help individuals make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

“Because this year has been so active, and we’re seeing a lot of people not get their vaccine, we thought this would be something to share with the public, as a way to encourage them to do their part,” Knoche said.

Health experts strongly encourage all eligible South Carolina residents to get their flu shot, especially as large groups gather during the holidays. The vaccine is available to everyone ages 6 months and older.

“We are trying to encourage people – even if they’re young and relatively healthy — to remember there are people out in their community, people in their family, that are susceptible,” Knoche said. “We need to protect them as well.”

Click here to see DHEC’s flu vaccination data. State health officials said vaccination numbers will be updated every other Wednesday, beginning Nov. 23.

“Obviously, flu vaccines protect the person that gets the vaccine, but it also the people around them — their grandparents and younger family members that might be more susceptible to getting flu, and winding up in the hospital,” Knoche said.