The Contra Costa County Public Health Department wanted to answer a question asked by a Claycordian after we posted the news about the flu related death of a Contra Costa County resident.
QUESTION: What underlying conditions would affect a person’s response to the flu?
ANSWER (from the Public Health Dept.) Flu can be unpredictable and anyone who gets flu illness has the risk of getting very sick. It’s not possible to predict who will get very sick and possibly die from flu illness and who will only have mild illness. That’s why it’s so important for everyone to get a flu vaccine each year, especially since even those with mild illness can transmit flu disease to others up to a day before they feel sick.
We do know from past flu seasons that certain health conditions can put people at greater risk of severe flu disease, hospitalization, and even death. Unfortunately, many of these conditions are fairly common. They include: diabetes, asthma, heart disease, pregnancy, being under 5 years of age, and being over 65 years of age. Thankfully, our elderly community members know this and many get flu vaccine each year. However, past flu seasons have shown that the H1N1 flu strain has made more children and young adults sick, even previously healthy ones, compared to the elderly. Older children and young adults may not be in the habit of getting flu vaccine each year because they don’t know they are at greater risk of severe flu disease from H1N1. The H1N1 strain has been in the community since 2009 and it is now considered a season flu strain.
We strongly encourage community members to get flu vaccine each year. It’s safe and it’s the best way to prevent flu disease. This season’s flu vaccine provides protection against H1N1 as well as other common flu strains. Protection lasts the whole season, so we recommend getting flu vaccine as soon as it is available, but it is never too late to get vaccinated.
Your readers can find more information on at-risk groups by clicking HERE.
Readers can also find out more information about flu disease and where to get flu vaccine by clicking HERE.
Thanks so much for helping inform our community about an important health topic!
Paul Leung, MPH
Immunization Coordinator, Contra Costa Public Health
CLAYCORD NOTE: Thanks to Paul Leung for reaching out and taking the time to answer the question!