Making ourselves sick

An aggressive flu season has already claimed the lives of a 7-year-old and 66-year-old resident in Sacramento

This story has been expanded from its print edition.

An aggressive flu strain has already hospitalized a dozen people and contributed to the deaths of a 7-year-old and 66-year-old in Sacramento County this year, its public health department announced Monday.

Statewide, at least 16 people have died from the flu since Sept. 29, according the California Department of Public Health. The Sacramento child, who had underlying medical conditions, is the second pediatric death in California this flu season, prompting public health officials to once again plead with residents to get their flu shots.

“Everyone in the community who can get vaccinated should get vaccinated,” Olivia Kasirye, Sacramento County’s public health officer, said in a statement. “As the number of vaccinated individuals in a community increases, it decreases the transmission of the flu virus to those who have not, or cannot be vaccinated resulting in fewer hospitalizations and deaths.”

The “can” group includes able-bodied residents at least six months old, including pregnant women. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, slightly more than half of these people got vaccinated last year.

Of the two strains circulating locally, Influenza B is most prevalent in the deaths and the cases of people being admitted to intensive care units. The vaccine covers both strains. It takes a couple of weeks for the body to build an immunity once vaccinated, so health officials are also reminding anyone who gets the flu to restrict contact with others until a full 24 hours after their fever breaks. People should also avoid touching their faces and regularly wash their hands.

Upcoming vaccination clinics will be held Dec. 10 at the Galt Library and Jan. 25 at Hagginwood Community Center. Visit for more locations.