Los Angeles County health officials have confirmed the county’s first flu death of this year’s season and are reminding everyone to get a flu shot before more people get sick.
The person who died was elderly and had underlying health conditions, according to the county Department of Public Health.
“This is a sad reminder that the flu can be a serious illness, especially for the elderly, young children and people with weakened immune systems,” Dr. Muntu Davis, a Los Angeles County health officer, said Thursday in a prepared statement. “I would like to remind everyone that even if you’re healthy, you can still get seriously sick from the flu and spread the illness to others. Immunization is the best method to protect yourself and reduce the likelihood of spreading flu to others in your community.”
Eleven people have died in California from influenza this season, according to data published last week by the California Department of Public Health.
Flu season typically runs from October through May and frequently peaks in February. Officials said an estimated 278 people died from the flu in Los Angeles County during the 2017-18 season.
Nationwide, last season was considered among the worst in several decades after an estimated 80,000 Americans died of the illness and its complications.
Flu activity is beginning to increase statewide, and California health officials are recommending that everyone over 6 months old, including pregnant women, get vaccinated. Officials say it’s never too late to get a flu shot, though it takes about two weeks for the immunization to take effect.
Although some healthy people may not worry about getting the flu, officials say they still should get the shot so they don’t spread the illness to someone who might not recover as quickly.