Los Angeles County has confirmed its first flu death of the season, and with most of the season still ahead, health officials are reminding residents to get vaccinated.
The person who died was elderly and had multiple underlying health conditions, according to the county Department of Public Health. There was no record of the person being vaccinated against the flu this season, officials added.
“Although most people recover from influenza without complications, this death is a reminder that influenza can be a serious illness. … Annually, thousands of people across the country are hospitalized or die from influenza-associated illnesses,” health officials said in a statement.
Statewide, nine people have died from the flu since Oct. 1, according to the most recent data from the California Department of Public Health.
Flu season generally runs from October to May and peaks around February, but every season is different. An estimated 670 Californians died from the flu during the 2022-23 season, public health figures show.
Federal health officials have long recommended that most people get an annual flu vaccine. But that call has taken on greater urgency in recent years, given the additional threat posed by COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
Health officials are preparing for the possibility of a renewal “tripledemic” this winter, with all three viruses circulating widely at the same time. Last year, Southern California was hit hard by an early attack of RSV, a historically strong start to the flu season, and a spike in COVID-19, straining a health care system that was already stretched thin. limit and sent patients to the emergency room en masse.
“Current indicators of influenza activity in Los Angeles County are in line with past seasons and have increased in recent weeks,” officials said.
In the week ending Nov. 4, the most recent period for which data is available, flu activity was still considered low statewide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. .
But flu activity is increasing as the holiday season approaches, and authorities strongly recommend that everyone over 6 months old, especially older adults and those with weakened immune systems, get vaccinated.
Although some healthy people may not be fazed by flu season, officials say they should still get vaccinated so as not to spread the disease to someone who may not recover as quickly.