SANTA CLARA COUNTY — Santa Clara County health officials announced Tuesday that a 39-year-old person has died from the flu.
The person, whose gender was not released due to privacy concerns, was the first person under the age of 65 to die from the flu, said Santa Clara County Public Health Department Director, Dr. Sara Cody.
According to Cody, the individual who died had other medical conditions that put them at increased risk of severe complications from the flu.
In Santa Cruz County, public health officials are urging everyone six months and older to get vaccinated early before the virus starts going around.
“The flu vaccine helps stop the spread of the flu and protects everyone’s health,” said Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency spokeswoman Corinne Hyland. “The start of the flu season is unpredictable, and the vaccine takes two weeks to become fully effective.”
During the 2017-18 flu season, 11 flu-associated deaths in people under 65 were reported in Santa Clara County, Cody said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 80,000 people of all ages in the United States died of the flu and its complications during last year’s season.
About 80 percent of those who died were unvaccinated.
Vaccines are available at doctors’ offices, and many pharmacies provide free and low-cost flu vaccinations to the public.
“Flu shots are the best way to protect yourself, your family, and the community from becoming seriously ill with the flu,” said Santa Cruz County Health Officer, Dr. Arnold Leff.
Health officials say that, because flu strains change over time, it is important to get the flu vaccine every year.
“Vaccination not only reduces the risk of catching the flu, it also reduces the chance that you’ll be hospitalized,” said Santa Cruz County Public Health Director of Nursing Jennifer Herrera. “Even if it is not a perfect match for all of this year’s flu strains, the flu vaccine will provide some protection and reduce your chances of needing to be hospitalized if you do get sick.”
Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
In most cases, people should not visit the emergency room for flu symptoms but may call their doctor. People who experience symptoms should stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever goes away.
Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
Public health officials urge the public to stop the spread of germs by practicing good hand washing and health habits:
In addition, people can:
• Limit contact with others and stay home from work or school if you are ill
• Cough into a tissue, your elbow or arm, covering your nose and mouth
• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based rub
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
• Stay home when you are sick, and keep your children home when they are sick.
• Stay home until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours.
Pregnant women, children younger than five years old, adults 65 and older, and people with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes should contact their doctors immediately if they experience flu symptoms.
For information, visit the Santa Clara County flu web page at sccphd.org/flu.
Find locations that offer flu vaccine at vaccinefinder.org.