Two flu deaths in San Benito County

Two San Benito County residents have died from the flu, according to San Benito County Public Health Services.

“We regretfully announce the deaths of two San Benito County residents associated with influenza virus infection,” Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said.

One individual was an adult under the age of 65 and the other individual was over 65. Both had other medical conditions possibly increasing the risk of severe complications from the flu.

Although the vaccination status for these residents is unknown, California state health officials report that “of the 27 influenza-associated deaths and 85 influenza-associated intensive care unit admissions in persons <65 years of age for whom data were available, approximately 95 percent had at least one underlying medical condition and two-thirds were unvaccinated.”

Influenza activity is increasing in San Benito County and throughout the state as indicated by disease surveillance data. People at highest risk from severe complications from influenza infection include adults 65 years of age and older, children younger than 5, pregnant women, and those with certain medical conditions like asthma, heart disease, and weakened immune systems.

Newel emphasized the importance of getting the flu shot.

“It is not too late to get vaccinated,” she said. “We encourage everyone six months of age and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible every flu season.”

San Benito County Public Health Services provides free flu shots. You can get the vaccine locally at:

  • Your healthcare provider (covered by insurance without deductible or copay)
  • Any pharmacy (covered by insurance without deductible or copay)
  • Public Health Services office at 439 Fourth Street in Hollister on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointments are necessary.

Public health officials also advise the following steps to protect from the flu, as well as from other respiratory illnesses:

  • Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue
  • If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Stay home when you or family members are sick. Stay home until you have been symptom-free for at least 24 hours.

For more information, please call public health services at (831) 637-5367, go to the website at https://hhsa.cosb.us/publichealth/ or visit https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/Influenza.aspx.

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