El Dorado County health officials confirmed its first influenza-related fatality in a county resident this season Tuesday evening.
The individual was an adult who resided on the Western Slope of the County.
“It’s important for everyone to know that it is the beginning of the flu season in California and it is not too late to get the flu vaccine,” El Dorado County Health Officer Dr. Alicia Paris-Pombo stated in a press release. “Vaccination is the single best thing we can do to prevent the spread of influenza. It is also important for people who are sick with flu symptoms, especially those who are high risk or whose symptoms do not improve, to seek medical advice right away. Antiviral medications are most effective if given within the first few days of flu symptoms.”
People who are high risk for serious complications from the flu include: young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years of age and older.
The predominant strain of flu circulating in El Dorado County and across California this year is Influenza A (H1N1). This strain of flu tends to cause more severe illness in young and middle aged adults, but can affect anyone of any age. This year’s flu vaccine provides protection against H1N1, along with at least two other flu strains.
The seasonal influenza vaccine is available in many locations, including health care provider offices and pharmacies. The Public Health Division of the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency offers the flu vaccine by appointment for $10 per vaccination and at walk-in Community Outreach Vaccination Clinics on the Western Slope. No one will be turned away due to inability to pay. To schedule a vaccination appointment through El Dorado County Public Health, or to receive information about walk-in vaccine clinics, call 530-573-3155 in South Lake Tahoe or 530-621-6100 in Placerville.
El Dorado County Public Health urges individuals to take the following actions to protect themselves and others from the flu:
• Get vaccinated against the flu annually. (Individuals must be at least six months of age to receive the influenza vaccine).
• Avoid close contact with sick people.
• Stay home if you are sick.
• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Sneeze or cough into your arm or a tissue (as opposed to your hands).
• Take flu antivirals if your doctor prescribes them.
— Margaret Williams is the health program manager and public information officer for the El Dorado County Health & Human Services Agency.