Sixth flu death in Kern County confirmed

- BAKERSFIELD, CA -- Health officials in Kern County say 43-year-old Angela Gibson Fairchild died Saturday. That brings the total to six flu related deaths in Kern County this month.

"Three of them confirmed for H1N1," said Denise Smith with The Kern County Health Department.

Family for one of the other victims, 46-year-old Jeff Burgess, said he was healthy but became sick on Christmas and never recovered. His family says he didn't have a flu shot.

"If you have not gotten your vaccine yet it is really important,” Smith said. “It's a strain that is in the vaccine that will protect you from this strain of the flu."

Health officials say this time last year they had no flu related deaths. This year, only one person out the 41 people that have been hospitalized had their flu shot.

"This particular strain can be a serious strain and I just don't think we have had enough people that have been vaccinated."

Flu activity is now widespread in 35 states. That's up from 25 states last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Up north in Santa Clara County, hospitals have been setting up tents just to handle the influx of flu patients. Doctors here in Kern County say most of the patients are not the traditional age group of the very young or elderly.

"The 40's and the 50's is what most of our hospitalizations are," Smith said.

Flu shots are available at the Kern County Health Department for $9 and Smith wants you to remember the three Cs.

"Cover your cough, clean your hands and confine yourself at home if you are ill. I mean those are really important."

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