Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated in the wake of recent flu-related deaths and a new strain of the H1N1 virus.
So far this season, in the Bay Area, nine cases of swine flu-related deaths have been confirmed by officials:
- San Francisco County: 1
- Marin County: 2
- Sonoma County: 1
- Alameda County: 1
- Contra Costa County: 1
- Santa Clara County: 2
- San Mateo County: 1
Officials said the H1N1 virus currently spreading is the first new strain in decades -- and has been killing not just the elderly -- as is often seen with the other strains -- but also younger adults and children.
Many of those who died did not have any underlying health risks, officials said.
Alameda County's deputy health officer, Dr. Erica Pan, said she is concerned about people choosing not to get the flu shot becase they feel "it's not safe."
She said health departments get new vaccines each year as a response to the changing flu virus.
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While the flu season tends to peak in February, doctors are seeing an influx of patients suffering from flu-like symptoms.
"The fact that we are seeing an increase in flu activity, flu-related hospitalizations and deaths should motivate us to take action now and get a flu shot to prevent the most serious effects of the flu," said Dr. Scott Morrow, Health Officer for San Mateo County.
Regional Medical Center in San Jose has set up a large tent to treat patients with flu symptoms. Doctors said this also helps them keep patients with the symptoms away from other patients.
This is first time the hospital has had to set up the flu tent.