STOCKTON (CBS13) — Getting the flu isn’t just miserable aches and pains. For many, it can be a serious respiratory illness that can cause severe complications, even death.
There is a big push from public health officials in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties to get people vaccinated with the flu shot.
Just last week, Stanislaus County reported its first influenza death of the season.
“Flu season as really increased in the last couple of weeks, so we are really probably getting close to the peak,” said Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, the public health officer in Stanislaus County.
It’s hard to predict what the flu season will bring, but health officers are keeping a close eye on things after recent deaths in Australia where flu was to blame.
“This flu season, they are looking at a little bit of what happened in Australia and seeing that the flu vaccine, maybe wasn’t the best match for the strain circulating at the time so, we’re really watching it very closely,” she said.
Last year in California there were 501 cases of influenza A, and 100 cases of influenza B reported. Health officials say they won’t know until March if this flu season was worse than normal or whether it just started early.
“Even if the vaccine isn’t perfect, and doesn’t prevent somebody from getting influenza, it can make their illness be a lot milder,” said Dr. Karen Furst with San Joaquin County Public Health.
They say it’s important to know the symptoms; influenza can cause high fever, a cough, sore throat and body aches. The most vulnerable are people with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease or asthma.
“Other things people can do, besides get the vaccine that can help keep them from getting sick is good hand washing, wash your hands often though out the day,” she said.
Public health officials recommend people call their doctors or visit a local pharmacy to get their flu shots, and if you happened to come down with the flu, they urge people to stay home from work or school for at least 24 hours.