Tulare and Kings counties report more flu deaths; Valley toll now 38

The Fresno BeeFebruary 19, 2014 

A flu vaccine shot is administered to a patient at the American Legion Hall in Fresno during a flu vaccine clinic Thursday, January 31, 2013.

CRAIG KOHLRUSS/THE FRESNO BEE — Fresno Bee Staff Photo Buy Photo

Two new flu-related deaths were reported Wednesday by health officials in the central San Joaquin Valley.

Tulare County health officials reported a third person in their region -- a middle-aged man -- died of the flu last week, the officials said. He had chronic health problems that increased his risk of complications from the virus. Officials said he had been vaccinated against the flu this season.

Kings County health officials reported a sixth flu death -- a middle-aged woman who had health problems. She had not been vaccinated for the flu.

So far, 38 people have died of influenza in the central San Joaquin Valley. Fresno has had 22 deaths; Kings has had six; Merced County has had five deaths; Tulare, three; and Madera County has had two.

State health officials said last week flu season could be winding down. New cases of flu appear to be decreasing, they said, but at the same time, flu deaths continue to rise.

Flu shots information

• Everyone over the age of 6 months is recommended to get a flu shot.

• Vaccination of high-risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.

• People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

• Vaccination also is important for health-care workers and other people who live with or care for high-risk people to keep from spreading flu to high-risk people.

• Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for them should be vaccinated.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine information

• Pregnant women should receive a vaccine booster during the third trimester of each pregnancy, even if they received it before.

• Infants should be vaccinated as soon as possible. The first dose is recommended at 2 months of age. Young children need five doses of pertussis vaccine by kindergarten (ages 4-6).

• California requires seventh-grade students to get a vaccine booster shot.

• Adults need vaccine booster shots, especially if they are in contact with infants or are health-care workers or have contact with pregnant women.

Source: California Department of Public Health

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6310, banderson@fresnobee.com or @beehealthwriter on Twitter.

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