State health officials announced Wednesday that the first death related to the 2015-16 flu season occurred in San Clara County and encouraged residents to get vaccinated.
“As California’s public health officer, I am troubled when the flu turns into loss of life,” Dr. Karen Smith, of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement. “It doesn’t have to. That’s why I urge you to get your flu shot. By getting vaccinated, you can keep yourself healthy and stop the virus from spreading to others.”
Health officials would only say that the Santa Clara County resident who died was under 65. No other details of the patient, including gender, were released.
The flu, also known as influenza, has seen only sporadic activity in California, Smith said. But that should not give people an excuse to not be vigilant against virus, which typically peaks from December through April.
“Now is a good time to be vaccinated before the flu really spreads widely,” Smith said.
At least 78 people died due to influenza-related illnesses in the state during the last flu season, Smith said. But she added that many fatal cases go unrecognized because only deaths in people under the age of 65 are reported to the state health department.