"The flu vaccine helps stop the spread of the flu and protects everyone's health", said Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency spokeswoman Corinne Hyland.
The program is aimed at reducing morbidity, complications and mortality from seasonal influenza by improving the immunization coverage of people aged 65 and over, as well as by raising the awareness of the population of the risk of influenza and related complications and ways of prevention, the statement said. A report last week by the Centers for Disease Control ranked New Mexico as one of the three states hardest hit by influenza-like illness last month and one of 11 reporting widespread flu activity.
This time a year ago, there was a strong flu strain, forcing hospital facilities to impose strict visiting restrictions which remained in place ever since. Thirteen children have died from the flu so far this season.
The 185 influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported last season were the greatest total in the last 4 years.
"On a weekly basis we're seeing more and more cases of the flu", said director of urgent care for Primary Health Medical Group Dr. Derek Hamblin. "This year's vaccine is a good match for circulating strains and it is not too late to get the vaccine". "We continue to recommend community members get their flu shot". "The start of the flu season is unpredictable, and the vaccine takes two weeks to become fully effective".
It can be hard to predict, but so far it appears the 2018/19 season will peak in late January and early February.
"It's not just flu, but also other respiratory viruses", tweeted hospital CEO Alex Munter, "busy viral season".
"Complacency worries me most of all".
Of all flu specimens tested worldwide, 93.8% were influenza A and 6.2% were influenza B. Of subtyped influenza A viruses, 77% were 2009 H1N1 and 23% were H3N2. "We're so used to the flu that we really underestimate it", Morse said.
Sinus and ear infections are examples of moderate complications of flu, but a frequent serious complication, particularly in people with chronic lung disease, is pneumonia.