Nine-year-old Bakersfield girl dies from flu

The Kern County Public Health Department reported its first flu-related death in Kern County. Health officials are urging anyone who hasn't received a flu shot, to immediately get vaccinated.

The Kern County Public Health Department reported its first flu-related death in Kern County on Friday. The victim is a 9-year-old girl.

Health officials say the girl started getting flu-like symptoms last Saturday. They said she was otherwise healthy, but died from the flu Thursday. Officials said the girl had not been vaccinated.

The girl was a fourth grade student at Columbia Elementary School in northwest Bakersfield.

"Information is being shared by the school district with the families of their students letting them know the things they can do for prevention," said Dr. Claudia Jonah Kern County Public Health Department.

On Thursday, a letter was sent to parents in the Fruitvale School District. The district expressed its sincere condolences to the child's family and to the Columbia School community.

The Fruitvale School District crisis team was at the school Friday, meeting with students in the child's classroom.

"Now that the flu has hit our community, however, we haven't seen an increase in activity in our emergency rooms or an increase of activity in the surveillance that we do with the schools," said Denise Smith, Director of Disease Control.

Health officials say flu prevention is very important. They say always make sure to follow the three C's. Cover your cough, clean your hands and confine yourself at home when you're sick.

Some flu-like symptoms include headaches, body aches and fever.

"While there's been quite a bit of flu activity in the eastern parts of the country and in the midwest, we have not had that level of activity here in Kern County," said Jonah.

The school district said grief counseling will be available to students on Monday.

Health officials said Columbia Elementary is being thoroughly disinfected following the girl's death.

The Health Department is holding a flu clinic Saturday, January 26th from 10 a.m. until noon at 1800 Mt. Vernon Avenue. The cost is $9.

Health officials said they have over 1,000 doses available.

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