February 9, 2014

Editorial: Flu season is far from over

If your symptoms worsen, don’t mess around; see a doctor.

This severe flu season is far from over, although public health authorities hope the number of cases may have peaked.

If you have not gotten a flu vaccination, it’s not too late. If you’re ill, stay home and avoid infecting co-workers. If your symptoms worsen, don’t mess around; see a doctor.

Unfounded fears of vaccinations continue to plague much of California. But the consequences of not getting vaccinated are much worse, for you and for the people around you.

In a press call on Friday, Dr. James Watt of the California Department of Public Health reported that flu fatalities had risen to 202 people under 65 statewide, as of the week ending Feb. 1. By comparison, California recorded 18 influenza deaths through the same period last year.

As The Bee’s Cynthia Craft reported, state epidemiologists are investigating another 41 deaths, indicating that the toll from this flu season will rise higher.

Roughly 80 percent of the people who died had not gotten a flu shot. More than two-thirds of the victims were aged 40 to 64. The state does not keep track of people older than 65 who have died from the flu.

“The flu is unpredictable, remains widespread and continues to exceed expected levels,” Watt said.

While the number of cases may have peaked, the season could go on for months.

Otherwise-healthy people will fall ill and more people will succumb before their time. One is 38-year-old Leon Burns, a father of seven. His death, first reported by News10, occurred three weeks ago.

Burns was among the many people who had not gotten a flu vaccination. It’s easy to skip the shot, especially when you’re in your 30s and busy with life. But don’t.

Get to your neighborhood pharmacy, or any of the clinics that are offering vaccinations, and take your medicine. It won’t hurt and it might save a life – yours.

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