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Sonoma County reports flu death

February 9, 2018

Flu season continues, Sonoma County Health Officials urge flu shot.

Flu activity in Sonoma County continues to be widespread. Every year, the flu sickens and kills thousands of Americans and this year rates of illness in California and the rest of the country are trending moderately high. Unvaccinated individuals are encouraged to get a flu shot as soon as possible. The flu vaccine is available in Sonoma County and it is safe and effective.

This week, the Department of Health Services reports the first flu death in a Sonoma County resident under age 65. So far this flu season, Sonoma County has had 12 severe cases in adults under 65. The flu is particularly dangerous to the young, elderly and those with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems. Sonoma County’s data will be released each Friday, mirroring when the state Department of Public Health releases statewide data on influenza.

“These deaths underscore that influenza can be a very serious illness,” said Dr. Karen Milman, Sonoma County Health Officer. Flu deaths in people under age 65 are reported to local health departments and the state.

The vaccine keeps you protected for many months, but not forever. Also the strains of influenza change over time, so it’s important to get vaccinated every year. While everyone six months and older should get vaccinated, it is especially important for pregnant women, children younger than five, adults 65 and older and those with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes.

“A flu shot can take up to two weeks to become fully effective. It is not too late to get the flu shot. The flu shot increases your chances of staying healthy,” said Dr. Karen Holbrook, Sonoma County Deputy Health Officer.

Residents are encouraged to contact their health care provider to get their flu shot. The vaccine is also available at pharmacies, retail stores- and is offered by some employers.

In addition to getting the vaccine, health officials advise individuals to take the following steps to protect themselves and loved ones from influenza.

Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue.

If you do not have a tissue, cough into your elbow.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Stay home when you are sick.

Stay home until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours.

For more information about influenza visit the California Department of Public Health’s influenza web page. To find a flu vaccine at a location near you, visit the Vaccine Finder.