The flu in South Carolina remains widespread, with dozens more cases reported to hospitals, state health officials say.

Three more “lab-confirmed” deaths were recorded this month, the Department of Health of Environmental Control said, though none in Charleston, Berkeley or Dorchester counties.

The count brings the total number of in-state deaths attributed to the flu since Sept. 30 to at least 13, though that count may be low.

Because of the time it takes to collect medical data, DHEC’s reporting period is a calendar week behind, meaning that the most current available statistics cover the week ending Dec. 22.

A DHEC spokesperson said with the flu bug spreading, there’s still time to increase your protection.

“The flu shot is the best way to prevent getting the flu,” said spokesperson Lindsey Evans.

“Flu shots take two weeks before they are effective,” she added, “so the sooner a person receives the vaccination the better.”

Evans urged other preventive measures to spreading the flu include covering your cough with the “crook of your elbow, washing your hands frequently and staying home if you are sick.”