FRESNO COUNTY – As the county’s health department confirms its first influenza death of the flu season, health officials urge the public to remember the importance of getting their vaccinations.
The Fresno County Department of Public Health (FCDPH) confirmed its first flu death of the 2023-24 season in an announcement on Dec. 21. According to FCDPH, the victim was an elderly individual who had influenza type A. The press release did not identify the person’s gender.
Since then, the department reported that there have been three other confirmed flu-related deaths, bringing the total to four. As of report, a fifth death is currently pending confirmation.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the friends and families of these individuals,” said Interim Health Officer Rais Vohra via announcement. “With respiratory infections increasing this time of the year, it is more important than ever for people to get a flu vaccine, as well as an updated COVID-19 vaccine, if they have not already done so. Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations can be administered during the same visit.
The department notes that as of Dec. 9, there have been 143 flu-associated deaths of individuals 18-64 years old and 14 flu-related pediatric – ages 0-17 – deaths in the nation. Across the state, 12 individuals ages 18-64 have died. One pediatric death has been confirmed.
The FCDPH encourages everyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated. People 65 and older, children younger than 5, pregnant women, and individuals with certain medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.
The department advises anyone experiencing a cough, sore throat, sneezing, nasal congestion, fevers, and body aches should stay home. These individuals should use home test kits to test for flu and COVID-19.
“Protect your loved ones, neighbors, and your community,” said Vohra. “Do you part. Get your flu vaccine as soon as you can.”
The vaccine cannot prevent all cases of flu but provides the best defense against infection, according to the department. It typically takes about two weeks for protection to develop following a vaccination. The vaccine lasts several months to a year.
The FCDPH Immunization Program is still offering flu vaccines for the 2023-2024 flu season. The department recommends contacting the Immunization Program for information on where to obtain a flu vaccine.
For more information about the flu or vaccinations, contact the Immunization Program at 559-600-3550 or visit www.fcdph.org/flu.