Flu deaths and hospitalizations on the rise

A 7th person in Kern County has died from the flu. As of Monday, 49 people were hospitalized.
KERN COUNTY, CA - The number of deaths from the flu is dramatically rising in Kern County. On Monday, health officials reported the death of a seventh person.

Kern County was one of the first regions to see severe flu cases with many hospitalizations. The flu is now widespread throughout the state, and health officials fear more deadly cases may be reported in the coming weeks.

"January, February are usually the very high points, so we're extra concerned because we've had quite a bit of activity of very severe illness prior to January," said Kern County Public Health Department's Dr. Claudia Jonah.

In Kern County, doctors reported seeing Influenza A patients and 14 confirmed cases of H1N1. As of Friday, the California Public Health Department's website said 28 people have died from the flu statewide.

"The current season's flu vaccine gives you protection for two types of Influenza A and one type of Influenza B," said Jonah. "H1N1 is a type of Influenza A, which has protection in the current season's influenza vaccine."

If you are already sick with the flu, you need to take antiviral medication. Local pharmacies reported to the health department they had a shortage last week after hundreds were diagnosed with the flu.

"This is happening, because we have had reports that sometimes people have to go to more than one pharmacy before they can find their prescription being filled," said Jonah. "That was the end of last week, so they've probably re-ordered."

Dr. Jonah said it's best that people who do not have an allergy to the flu vaccine get it, since it takes two weeks for full immunity. On Monday, the health department said it vaccinated more than 200 people.
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