The Health Department regretfully announces the death of two Monterey County residents associated with influenza virus infection. Both individuals were adults under the age of 65 years. Influenza A pH1N1 has been identified as the specific strain of influenza associated with these two deaths. The Health Department will not release additional details about these individuals in order to protect the families’ right to privacy and to maintain confidentiality.
“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these individuals,” states Dr. Edward Moreno, Health Officer for Monterey County. To date this season, there have been an additional 6 Monterey County residents under the age of 65 years who became ill enough to require hospitalization in Intensive Care Units due to influenza virus infection.
Those at highest risk for severe complications from influenza infection include adults 65 years of age and older, children less than 2 years old, pregnant women, and those with certain medical conditions like asthma, heart disease, and weakened immune systems. While it is not possible to predict which influenza viruses will predominate during the entire 2013-14 influenza season, pH1N1 has been the predominant circulating virus so far. Influenza activity continues to increase in Monterey County, as is expected for this time of the year. If the pH1N1 virus continues to circulate widely, severe illness that disproportionately affects adults under the age of 65 may continue to occur.
Monterey County public health officials urge all individuals six months of age and older to get vaccinated against influenza. The current influenza vaccine protects against pH1N1. “Influenza vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect your family from complications of influenza,” states Dr. Edward Moreno. “It’s not too late to get immunized.”
Other influenza prevention strategies include:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand rub may be used.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Stay at least 6 feet away from individuals who are visibly ill.
- If you are sick, stay home from work or school until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours. Going to work or school while ill may pass the disease onto someone who is at risk for serious complications.
Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System is offering free influenza vaccinations Saturday, January 18th, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 450 East Romie Lane, Salinas, in the MRI parking lot. Vaccinations are available for individuals 6 months of age and older.
Free or low cost influenza vaccinations are offered by the Monterey County Health Department’s Clinic Services Division. Walk-in services are available Monday through Friday 08:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the following locations:
- Alisal Health Center, 559 East Alisal St., Salinas - 769-8870
- Seaside Family Health Center, 1150 Freemont Blvd., Seaside - 899-8100
Other locations offering influenza vaccination can be found at: http://flushot.healthmap.org/