As we enter the peak of flu season, health officials announced Friday there have been five confirmed flu-related deaths in the county this season. The exact ages are unknown, though all but one were 65 years old or older. Also, four people younger than 64 years of age have been admitted to Intensive Care.
Though the exact number of flu cases in the county this season is unknown — many go unreported — this season has been worse than last, said Public Health Officer Dr. Charity Dean. In October, Dean implemented a mandatory flu vaccine policy for employees at all five hospitals in the county for the 2014-2015 flu season, November 1 to March 31. The rule received some pushback from staff.
It’s not too late for members of the public to get the flu shot, Dean said. The effectiveness of the vaccine varies from year to year. Last year, she said, the vaccine was believed to be about 60 percent effective. “This year looks like lower than 60,” she added. “Even if [the vaccination] doesn’t prevent someone from getting it, it’s going to significantly decrease the severity of their illness.”