Health officials worried flu season will worsen

The California Department of Public Health is calling this year's flu season severe and is reporting widespread activity across the state.

KERN COUNTY, CA - Two more Kern County residents have died from the flu, bringing the total number of flu-related deaths to eleven.

The California Department of Public Health is calling this year's flu season severe and is reporting widespread activity across the state.

Health officials say they're extremely concerned since a significant number of deaths have already been reported.

New information from the CDPH shows the severity of this year's flu, and local health officials say it's not over.

"It could get worse," said Disease Control Director Denise Smith, Kern County Health Department.

Smith says the H1N1 strain is dominant this season and is deadly.

"Right now, we're concerned about making sure as many people that are out there are protected against the flu virus by getting your vaccine."

The health department says its clinic has been packed with 200 to 300 people getting their flu shot daily.

New state numbers released Friday show the flu is widespread in 20 counties.

State health officials report as of January 11th, 45 people died statewide.

The state says there's an additional 60 deaths being investigated as flu-related.

Health officials say of the 45 who died, the majority didn't have flu shots.

"As a parent and a mom, I would be concerned and I would want to make sure my family was protected," said Smith.

Health officials say even though the flu season peaks in late January, it was different in 2009 when the H1N1 strain peaked in April.

Health officials say more people under 65 are being hit hard by the flu.

"A majority of the cases that we've had that have died are in their 40's," continued Smith.

State health officials report there is no shortage of the flu vaccine and it's widely available at local pharmacies and health departments.

State health officials say last flu season, 106 people died. They expect that number to increase this year.

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