SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Cases of influenza are on the rise, and the California Department of Public Health announced that there have been four flu-related deaths in the Bay Area.
Health officials said two of the deaths took place in San Mateo County, one in San Francisco and one in Sonoma County.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of flu-related deaths has almost doubled in recent weeks. A total of 45 children nationwide have died from the flu since the flu season began in the fall.
“We have seen an increase in flu cases,” said Dr. Naveena Bobba of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. “It’s that time of year.”
Bobba, who is the department’s director of emergency preparedness, said hand washing and getting a flu shot are still the best lines of defense. But this year’s flu vaccine is falling short of expectations, being only 23 percent effective.
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According to Bobba, the lack of effectiveness is because this year’s predominant flu strain, H3N2, has changed. “That flu strain shifted, genetically shifted, so the match is not there,” Bobba said.
Even if the vaccine is not up to par, the CDC and local doctors urge people to still get the flu vaccine. While the flu season starts in the fall, officials said it is not too late to be vaccinated.