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L.A. County confirms first flu death of 2013-2014 season

Health officials have confirmed Los Angeles County's first death of the 2013-2014 influenza season.

The victim, a woman who lived in the San Fernando Valley, was infected with an influenza B strain, the Department of Public Health reported Friday. The woman also had underlying medical conditions, which would have placed her at higher risk of death from the virus.

The county reported its first hospitalization from the flu in late July, and there were sporadic cases of types A and B influenza during August and September. 

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county's health officer, urged Angelenos six months and older to get their flu vaccinations now, via injection or nasal spray.

Pregnant women, elderly people, children under the age of 5 and people with underlying illnesses are particularly at risk for complications of the flu. Health workers in L.A. county are required to get vaccinated against the flu, or wear a mask at work.

"We cannot predict how severe or how mild this flu season will be, but the earlier you get your seasonal flu vaccine ... the sooner you will be protected," Fielding said, in a statement.

During the 2012-2013 flu season, L.A. County confirmed 69 deaths from the flu, including seven children. The public health department has said last year was a "moderately severe" influenza season.

The public health department said that the county would offer free flu vaccinations at community outreach events. Officials also urged people to wash hands frequently, to cover the nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing and to stay home from school or work when ill.

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