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First flu-related death reported on the North Coast since 2009

NORTH COAST- Health officials are confirming the first flu-related death has hit the north coast and it is the H1N1 strain. The Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services said a man in his 60's died Monday from influenza related complications. This death is the first for the county since 2009, when county officials confirmed two deaths from the same strain. 
Statewide, seven laboratory-confirmed flu deaths of people under the age of 65 have been reported and an additional 28 deaths are being investigated as possibly related to influenza. Public health officials say so far this flu season Humboldt County has tested 60 cases for the flu, 17 of which were tested positive. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated. It usually takes two weeks after receiving the flu vaccine for antibodies to build up in the body sufficiently to achieve the best protection.
“A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing,” said Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Public Health Director Susan Buckley. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get the flu and spread it to others.”
This year’s flu vaccine protects against three different flu viruses: H1N1, H3N2 and one type of influenza B. Most of the cases tested locally are coming back positive for H1N1, the same strain associated with the 2009 pandemic.
DHHS is offering a walk-in flu shot clinic every Thursday in January from 1 to 4 p.m. at its Public Health office at 529 I St. in Eureka. Remaining clinic dates are Jan. 16, 23 and 30. No appointment is necessary. The cost of the flu shot is $17, though no one will be turned away for inability to pay. Medicare is accepted.
In addition to the Thursday walk-in clinic, appointments for flu vaccines can be made Monday through Friday at the DHHS Public Health Clinic. To make an appointment, call 268-2108. Vaccines are also available at a number of other local pharmacies and healthcare providers.
“There is more you can do to prevent the spread of the flu in addition to getting a flu shot,” Buckley said. “We recommend practicing the ‘3 Cs’: Clean your hands, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, and contain your germs by staying home if you get sick.”