Another 41 Californians under the age of 65 have died from the flu, bringing the total on the season to 243 confirmed deaths with another 41 under investigation, according to state health officials.
There were 26 confirmed flu deaths at this time last year and 106 for the whole season, which typically runs through March.
H1N1 continues to be the predominant influenza strain being seen this year — a virus that hits younger adults, children and pregnant women more severely than typical flu viruses.
The good news, according to Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, is that the number of deaths by week, as well as the number of outpatient visits and hospitalizations, have been decreasing.
“The downward trend in the number of influenza cases is a good sign,” Chapman said Friday, but he added that “the season is far from over.”
“Unfortunately, this influenza season is still severe and the number of influenza deaths continues to rise,” he said. “Vaccination is still the best way to prevent illness and the spread of illness.”
Yolo County offers weekly flu vaccination clinics and most doctor’s offices and pharmacies still have flu vaccines — both the shot and the mist version — in stock.
The county Health Department offers flu vaccines every Monday from 2 to 5 p.m. On the first Monday of the month, the clinic takes place in West Sacramento at 500B Jefferson Blvd., and on the second, third and fourth Mondays, the clinics are in Woodland, at 137 N Cottonwood St.
However, there is no clinic this Monday because of the President’s Day holiday.
Vaccinations at the Monday clinics cost $10 but no one will be turned away for inability to pay.
So far ,Yolo County is one of just 10 counties in the state without a confirmed flu-related fatality. Sacramento has been particularly hard-hit, with 23 flu deaths in individuals under the age of 65. Meanwhile, Sonoma County has recorded seven flu deaths, Solano has had two and Lake County one.
Chapman reported Friday that the great majority of flu deaths have occurred in people with underlying medical conditions and four involved children.
California hospitals have reported 597 individuals admitted to intensive care units for the flu and the state reported that the vast majority of those ICU admissions, as well as fatalities, involved individuals between the ages of 40 and 64.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy