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Flu Shots are still available in Sonoma County


Flu Shots are still available in Sonoma County

Although flu is currently widespread in 46 states throughout the country, the season has been relatively mild in Sonoma County and the rest of the Bay Area. However, that could change soon. Locally and across the Bay Area, cases are increasing, including severe disease.

Consistent with trends seen across the Bay Area, influenza activity in Sonoma County is increasing. Unvaccinated individuals are encouraged get a flu shot as soon as possible.

Every year, flu sickens and kills thousands of Americans. It is particularly dangerous to the young, elderly and those with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems.

Last week, the California Department of Public Health announced the state’s first flu death, in southern California. This week, Dr. Karen Holbrook, Sonoma County Deputy Health Officer, reports the first flu death in a Sonoma County resident - an adult under 65. Three additional flu deaths occurred in the Bay Area in adult residents of San Francisco (1) and San Mateo (2) counties. “These deaths remind us that influenza can be a very serious illness,” said Holbrook. Flu deaths in people under age 65 are reported to local health departments and the state.

So far this season, influenza A H3N2 viruses have been most common. Seasons in which this strain predominates typically experience higher mortality levels. Possibly making matters worse is surveillance data indicating that about half of this year’s A H3N2 viruses show “drift” changes that may make this year’s flu shot less effective.

“Even though the flu shot is not a perfect match for all of this year’s flu viruses, it is still worth getting,” Holbrook said. “The shot will still protect against other strains, and can lessen the severity of flu if you do get sick.”

In addition to getting vaccinated, it's important to practice good hand washing and health habits. People who are ill can help stop the spread of germs:

• Limit contact with others – stay home from work or school

• Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing

• Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based rub

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone six months of age or older, but is particularly important for those at higher risk of severe influenza, including pregnant women, children under five years of age, the elderly, and persons with certain underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, asthma and heart disease. Vaccination of pregnant women also helps to protect infants too young to be vaccinated.

This flu season can still become severe. Those at highest risk who show flu symptoms should contact their physician immediately in order to get the most effective treatment. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.

For information about where to get a flu shot in Sonoma County go to:

For more information about influenza, visit or