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Flu Outbreak & Vaccine Update 2014: Which State Is Having The Worst Flu Season?

First Posted: Jan 11, 2014 12:13 PM EST
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Getting a flu shot could never be more important and more pressing now more than ever. In California, health officials are in heightened alert over the rapid rise in deaths brought about by the flu season. CBS reports that there have been 11 statewide deaths resulting from flu infection. Six of the 11 deaths resulted from swine flu, and none of the fatalities were children.

The Sacramento Bee notes that 28 other deaths in the state remain under investigation, whether they have been caused by a flu strain or not.  On Friday, health authorities declared the flu 'widespread' in California, as infections from the flu strain have been occurring early and the mortality rate attributed to the disease is alarmingly high, exceeding statistical projection.

People are advised to get vaccinated if they haven't had their shot yet, so that infections and deaths may be prevented. Dr. Gil Chavez, who serves as the deputy director of the California Department of Public Health, believes that the strongest weapon against infections this flu season is getting the vaccine. He said, "If we get more people to get vaccinated now, I can assure that the curve (in numbers) will abate, and we will prevent many more illnesses,'' according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Notably, most patients succumbing to the flu are people younger than 65 years old. This is a peculiar trend this year, as flu infections usually hit young children or geriatric patients. The 11 fatalities were reported to have occurred in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Los Angeles, Lassen, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Stanislaus, Sonoma, and San Mateo. Two of the fatalities have received no vaccination, while information on the other nine fatalities have yet to be confirmed whether the victims were given their flu shot or not.

The flu season is expected to last until March, leading health officials to conclude that the flu season has arrived early this year and has been causing more infections than expected. Doctors warn that these infections may lead to more deaths if the public won't take preventative care and get vaccinated immediately.

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