Healthy Choices Blog

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Renee C. Byer / Sacramento Bee file

Officials say the H1N1 flu virus is that which is causing illness this year. The virus is the same as the one that caused an epidemic in 2009, leading to scenes such as Sacramento County residents lining up at Hiram Johnson High School to receive vaccinations.

Woman dies of flu, bringing death toll to 18 in Sacramento County

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 - 4:11 pm

Yet another person was reported dead of the flu Tuesday, Sacramento County health officials said, with the total number of county fatalities under 65 years old mounting to 18, two more than what the county saw last year at this time.

State officials have counted 95 deaths under 65, and said they anticipated confirming an additional 51 cases that counties have reported, possibly as early as Friday.

Meanwhile, communities in the region were scurrying to organize immunization clinics, after a no-cost flu shot clinic offered to Yolo County residents drew 400 people last weekend.

The predominant flu strain circulating is the same H1N1 virus that spread quickly in 2009, sparking a worldwide pandemic. But all of the influenza vaccines developed this year for North America contain that same so-called A/California/07/2009-like (H1N1) strain in order to battle the virus’ resurgence, according to the California Department of Public Health Influenza Surveillance Program.

That means if people get immunizations, they are far less likely to get sick than they were in 2009, when vaccines did not contain the H1N1 component, said Dr. Olivia Kasirye.

Kasirye urged residents to get vaccinated, if not for concerns over their own health, for the safety of loved ones who may be vulnerable.

Some retail outlets said they were short of supply and others reported being sold out of the vaccines. Still, people can go to clinicians to receive immunizations.

At Sacramento State, health clinic staff say they’ve vaccinated 2,744 students against the flu and hope to increase that number during the first weeks of the spring semester. Flu shots are free for students and immunizations are available daily. Students are advised to call 278-6461 for information from the campus’ Clinical Operations.

In Yolo County, the health department is offering a fourth special free flu vaccine clinic on Feb. 5 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at West Sacramento City Hall, located at 1110 W. Capitol Avenue. Officials echoed other health experts’ concerns that the H1N1 virus disproportionately affects younger adults, people with chronic medical conditions, children and pregnant women, especially in the third trimester.

“The special free flu vaccine clinic in Woodland this past weekend was a huge success with 79 volunteers assisting in providing flu vaccine to over 400 residents,” said Yolo County Health Officer Dr. Constance Caldwell.

Five Yolo County residents have been admitted to an intensive care unit with influenza-like symptoms. In Sacramento County, emergency medical staff have hospitalized 84 patients in intensive care units for the flu. Sacramento County’s fatalities include 10 women and eight men.

The flu death counts do not include individuals over 65, a highly vulnerable group, because officials wanted to use a reporting system that tracked how severe a flu season would be to the general population.

Call The Bee’s Cynthia H. Craft, (916) 321-1270.

Read more articles by Cynthia H. Craft

About Healthy Choices

Cynthia CraftCynthia H. Craft began her reporting and editing career in Columbus, Ohio, after graduating from Ohio State University. She worked at a Dallas, Texas, newspaper as an editor, and then at the Los Angeles Times, as an editor and Capitol Bureau correspondent. After working as editor in chief at the California Journal, Craft went to Lima, Peru, for three years as a visiting professor of journalism at Peruana Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas. She was a fellow in 2012 at the National Library for Medicine in Washington, D.C. at the National Institute for Health. She's currently The Sacramento Bee's senior writer on health, a position made possible by a grant from The California Endowment.

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Note: The Healthy Choices blog switched blog platforms in August 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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