Ventura County Public Health keeps watchful eye on influenza activity, encourages public to get flu shots
In response to Kern County Public Health reports confirming that eight Kern County residents have been diagnosed with severe 2009 influenza A (H1N1) influenza that required hospitalization, Ventura County Public Health (VCPH) officials have been keeping close tabs on flu activity in Ventura County. Several Kern County flu patients have been placed in the intensive care unit and, in some cases, have required support on a ventilator. Kern County borders Ventura County to the east.
So far, flu activity has been relatively low in Ventura County with only two patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of H1N1 and one patient hospitalized with a suspected H1N1 case. Because flu season generally does not peak until January or February, VCPH officials are encouraging anyone who has not yet received an annual flu shot to do so immediately. Most years, flu shots are especially important for the most vulnerable - the very young, very old and those with chronic illness. Because the H1N1 influenza is different from the average flu virus and tends to hit young, healthy people through middle-aged adults harder, it is very important that everyone be vaccinated this year.
“The 2013 – 2014 flu vaccine is a good match for the viruses that are currently making people sick,” said Dr. Robert Levin, Ventura County Health Officer. “This year’s shot includes the 2009 H1N1 strain, which is responsible for 97.7% of all flu illnesses so far this season.” According to the CDC, influenza and related complications are the eighth leading cause of death in the United States and influenza was associated with an estimated 381,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. last year. The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older, including pregnant women.
Although the flu typically causes the most severe cases in children, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions, during the 2009 worldwide pandemic, young, healthy people were impacted in greater numbers by the H1N1 virus. That year, the flu caused more illness in children and young and middle-aged adults than in older adults.
“Being vaccinated will reduce your chances of catching H1N1,” said Levin. “In addition, if you do get H1N1, the vaccine will help lessen the severity of your illness.”
For a list of Ventura County flu shot clinics, go to: http://www.vchca.org/public-health/publichealth- clinics and click on the red “Get Your Flu Shot” button for the January and February schedules.
For more information on the 2013 – 2014 flu season, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.