A woman in her 40s has become San Mateo County's first flu-related death this year, county health officials confirmed Thursday.
Additionally, there have been six flu-related ICU hospitalizations, San Mateo County Health System spokeswoman Robyn Thaw said.
Flu season is on the rise across the nation and throughout California, but it hasn't peaked yet. To date, San Mateo County has seen an increase in flu activity as compared to the same time last year, according to county health officials.
Seven Bay Area residents between the ages of 41 and 65 have recently died of complications related to the flu. The recent San Mateo County death brings the total up to eight flu related deaths in the Bay Area this season.
"We are still several weeks away from the peak of flu season," said Dr. Scott Morrow, Health Officer for San Mateo County.
"The fact that we are seeing an increase in flu activity, flu-related hospitalizations and deaths should motivate us to take action now and get a flu shot to prevent the most serious effects of the flu," Morrow said.
The H1N1 influenza strain, which emerged in 2009, appears to be the main flu strain and causes more illness in children and young adults, and severe illness in all age groups. This flu season’s vaccine protects against H1N1 and health officials are urging everyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated.
Unlike other vaccine preventable diseases, it is necessary to get a flu shot every year. Vaccine is still widely available and people are encouraged to call their health care provider or check for vaccine availability at Flu Clinic Locator.
The peak of the flu season is usually late January through March, so there is still time to get protection. Once vaccinated, it takes approximately two weeks before you are fully protected against the flu.
An influenza vaccine is especially important for pregnant women and other people at higher risk for severe influenza, such as people with underlying chronic medical conditions, according to county health officials.
While a yearly flu vaccine is the most important step in protecting against the flu virus, health officials advise everyone to also take preventive action including washing your hands, avoiding contact with sick people, knowing the signs of the flu and seeking treatment immediately once they appear, and taking all antiviral medicine as prescribed by your physician if you are diagnosed with the flu.
For more information about the flu, visit www.smchealth.org/flu/.