Flu hits Kern County earlier than expected

    Kern County Public Health is urging hte public to get a flu vaccination as soon as possible. Photo via MGN.

    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - There's usually a spike in flu illnesses right after the holidays, and this flu is sending Kern County patients to the hospital earlier than it has in the past.

    So far, this flu season, two people in Kern County under the age of 65 have died from a flu-related illness, and four have been hospitalized, according to KCPH. Statewide, 42 people have died.

    "Our deaths have been a little earlier this season than in previous seasons, so that's concerning for us here locally," Kimberly Fernandez, epidemiologist at Kern County Public Health, said. "And statewide, there's elevated flu activity almost across the entire state."

    Doctors at Kern Medical are vaccinating patients daily to keep that number from climbing any higher.

    Dr. Shakti Srivastava said he vaccinated at least five patients Monday morning, and throughout the past couple weeks he's been vaccinating "every hour, a few times," Srivastava said.

    Last year the Food and Drug Administration recommended getting a flu injection over the nasal spray, and said the spray was less effective at inoculating the virus. This year, they haven't made a distinction about which one is more effective, and recommend getting whatever's easiest.

    Where to get a flu shot:

    • Free flu shots are offered through CVS , Vons, or Rite Aid
    • The Public Health Department offers flu shots for $9 from 8-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday at its clinic, 1800 Mount Vernon Ave.

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