Eastern Health offering flu vaccine at clinics and by appointment

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Eight more influenza-related deaths were reported by state health officials Friday, underscoring the seriousness of this year's strain to those most vulnerable to it.

Thousands of people in California started showing up at doctors' offices and hospitals in December with the flu. That's true. But public health experts still say that an imperfect flu shot is better than no flu shot.

According to the National Institutes of Health, H3N2 viruses mutate and evolve more quickly than other strains, sometimes rendering vaccines less effective.

"The impact of flu is very serious this year, across the nation and here in SLO County", said Dr.

In California, state officials collect flu death data only among people under 65.

The flu strain now causing the most infections is H3N2, an influenza A virus that has been linked with increased hospitalizations and death, especially in young children and adults over age 65.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports influenza activity has spread to 46 US states.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and TDH recommend a yearly flu vaccine for everyone aged six months and older. New Hampshire is now one of only four states in the country - along with Maine, Hawaii and New Jersey - where the spread influenza is categorized as "regional".

Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin said the season's tally now surpasses the 15 deaths during the swine flu outbreak of 2009-2010.

Individuals who are at high risk for developing the flu are also strongly encouraged not to enter the hospital except to receive medical care.

It does take a couple of weeks for those antibodies to develop, so some people may get sick soon after getting the shot. Despite the increase, they said they're prepared to fight the flu for all residents in need.

Flu activity varies across the state.

This time of year is usually associated with flu season. In just the past week, hospitalizations have nearly doubled, going from 13.7 per 100,000 to 22.7 per 100,000.

Washoe County health officials have confirmed two more flu-related deaths.

"The volumes of patients coming in increased dramatically during Christmas week", White said.