Public Health Department urges flu vaccination and hand washing
County of Santa Clara, CA. – The first person under the age of 65 years to die of the flu during this 2018-2019 flu season in Santa Clara County was 39 years old with unknown flu vaccination status.
Dr. Sara Cody, County Health Officer and Director of the Public Health Department, said the individual who died had other medical conditions that put the individual at increased risk of severe complications from the flu. Due to medical privacy laws, further details about the individual will not be released.
During the 2017–2018 flu season, 11 flu-associated deaths in people under 65 years were reported in Santa Clara County. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 80,000 people of all ages in the United States died of the flu and its complications during last year’s season. About 80 percent of those who died were unvaccinated.
There have been four other cases of severe flu in individuals under the age of 65 reported in Santa Clara County Public Health Department during the 2018–2019 flu season.
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms of the flu may be similar to those of the common cold, but are usually more severe. The flu season continues through spring each year.
While flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older, it is especially important for pregnant women, children younger than five, adults 65 and older, and those with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.
In addition to getting the vaccine, health officials advise individuals to take the following steps to protect themselves and loved ones from flu.
- Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue.
- If you do not have a tissue, cough into your elbow.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Stay home when you are sick, and keep your children home when they are sick.
- Stay home until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue. People at higher risk of severe disease who show flu symptoms should contact their medical provider. Medical providers may prescribe antiviral medications that reduce the severity and duration of illness. Antibiotics are not effective against the flu.
Individuals are encouraged to contact their health care provider to get their flu shot. The vaccine is also available at pharmacies, retail stores, and is offered by some employers.