Los Angeles County records first flu death of 2021-22 season

Influenza vaccine syringes
L.A. has recorded its first flu death of the season. Above, influenza vaccine syringes at an L.A. clinic in 2020.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

Los Angeles County recorded its first influenza-related death of the 2021-22 season, public health officials announced on Wednesday.

The middle-aged man had multiple underlying medical conditions and hadn’t gotten his flu shot, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health. He tested negative for COVID-19 multiple times over the course of his illness.

“Although most people recover from influenza without complications, this death is a reminder that influenza can be a serious illness,” the public health department said.

Complications like pneumonia can develop, and the flu can aggravate underlying health conditions like heart disease and asthma, public health officials said.


Each year, thousands of people nationwide are hospitalized or die from flu-related illness, public health officials said.

How intense a given flu season will be can be difficult to predict, public health officials said. The winter of 2019-20 saw lower circulation of respiratory viruses like the flu, most likely because of masking, social distancing and other measures implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“We are preparing for influenza viruses to spread in Los Angeles County this fall and winter,” public health officials said. “Indicators of influenza activity in Los Angeles County are currently low but have been rising in recent weeks.”

Authorities urge everyone aged 6 months and older to get their flu shot, which provides the best protection, public health officials said. Healthy people should still get the vaccine to protect others in their community, especially the elderly, young and those with weakened immune systems.

Those at high risk for flu complications are children younger than 5, adults aged 65 and older, and pregnant women, public health officials said.

“People at higher risk for complications from the flu should seek medical care as soon as they begin to feel ill, whether or not they have been vaccinated,” public health officials said.