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SLO County Public Health Department recommends getting flu shot despite questions over shot's efficiency

SLO Co. reports first flu-related death this flu season
Posted at 11:40 PM, Jan 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-15 02:40:58-05

As we approach the peak of flu season, we're now learning this year's flu vaccine might not be as effective as doctors had hoped.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced Tuesday that the main strain of the flu that has been circulating doesn't exactly match the vaccine. Health officials say getting the vaccine can still reduce your risk for getting the flu or at least make symptoms less severe.

If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet this year you're not alone.

"Everybody should get it, and I'm a little embarrassed to say I haven't gotten mine yet," said San Luis Obispo resident, Stefanie Francis.

As this year's flu season begins to grow in intensity, health officials at the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department are still advising everyone who can to get vaccinated.

"The severity of the flu this year was not unusual and that just changed this month; hospitalizations are also above normal for this time of year," said Deputy Health Officer for the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department, Dr. Rick Rosen.

On Tuesday, the health department announced one man has died from the flu so far in San Luis Obispo County's flu season, but it's unclear if that person was vaccinated.

While questions remain about how effective the flu shot is this year, Doctor Rosen says will still help.

"First of all, you're about half as likely to get the flu any given flu season and then you're much less likely to go to the hospital, ICU or die if you do get it," Dr. Rosen said.

Rosen says this year's predominant strain--Type B--is more likely to infect young people and is more likely to cause cause severe illness in young people as well.

That's something of concern for moms like Tara Peltzer.

"When we had our little one in August, he wasn't old enough at the time to have the flu vaccine, and it's kinda scary to think he could get sick or even put him in the hospital," Peltzer said.

The SLO County Public Health Department does offer the flu shot at its location off Johnson Avenue.

It's $10 for the regular shot and $56 for the high dose shot, which is recommended for those 65 or older.

Health officials in Santa Barbara County say there has been one flu related death so far this flu season as well. The person was also over the age of 65.