Even as L.A. County officials reported the first deaths of the 2015-16 flu season in mid-January, health experts reminded families that it isn’t too late to protect themselves by getting a flu shot. Both of the deaths occurred in people – a man in his 40s and a woman in her 90s – with pre-existing health problems, but pregnant women and very young children are also especially vulnerable.
“Even though influenza activity in California and much of the country is still at low levels, these deaths are a reminder that flu is circulating and potentially can cause serious illness,” L.A. County’s Interim Health Officer Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH, said in making the announcement. “We anticipate that influenza infections will increase as the winter season progresses, so getting vaccinated now will provide the best protection. In addition to the flu shot, practice basic hygiene, such as hand washing, to prevent the spread of influenza and other respiratory diseases.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers this year’s vaccine a close match for circulating strains of influenza, meaning it should provide good protection.
Families visiting www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip/flu/flulocatormain.htm can find lists of clinics where flu shots are given free of charge, a searchable map of pharmacies offering vaccinations, and additional information about influenza.
Flu season generally peaks in January or February and can last into the spring, and flu shots are recommended every year for everyone ages 6 months and older.