Flu hospitalizations rise in Kern County

By Maggie Rodriguez
Staff Writer

With the flu season in full swing and the number of people experiencing flu-related symptoms rising, Kern County residents are on a mission to stay healthy.

Kern County Numbers for Patients Admitted to Local Hospitals with Flu-like Symptoms. Graphic by Emily Cole

Kern County Numbers for Patients Admitted to Local Hospitals with Flu-like Symptoms.
Graphic by Emily Cole

While CSUB students don’t have to look too far for flu vaccinations, as the Student Health Center provides them for $20,  the center has run out of this year’s vaccinations, said Student Health Services Assistant Director Erika Delamar.

“We are actually out of the flu vaccine,” Delamar said.

“We ordered our amount, and then we had leftovers. But as people started hearing about the flu we have now depleted our supply,” Delamar added.

Although the flu shot is no longer available at the health center, pharmacists are referring students to places they know still have the vaccine and are encouraging them to come in if they feel they’re coming down with the flu.

“If you’re really sick, doctors can write you a prescription for the symptoms, ” said Delamar.

As of last Thursday in Kern County, nine people had died and 69 had been hospitalized due to influenza-like illness.

While there’s emphasis on people to get their flu shot, not everyone is receptive to receiving the vaccine.

An oil field worker, Antonio Martinez, 22, said he will not be getting the flu shot this year.

“The last two years I got the vaccine, I got sick. My wife and baby already got it, though. I’d rather take medicine,” Martinez said.

CSUB physician Christopher Gambrioli said that, contrary to popular belief, people who get sick from the vaccine are having “a reaction to the flu virus in terms of their immune system actually trying to generate a response. It takes up to two weeks to actually develop adequate antibodies for protection.”

However, if people are scared of getting the shot, Gambrioli said there are other alternatives, like the nasal mist.

“That is a life virus so you can theoretically get the flu and it’s a little more expensive,” he said.

Communications major Paulina Gamez, 22, said she’s never gotten the flu vaccine and she’s not afraid of getting the flu, as she takes preventatives measures months before the flu season strikes.

“In my house we do a lot of preventative measures: we drink more orange juice, eat healthier, my mom buys Echinacea capsules – they help boost the immune system,” said Gamez.

On Jan. 7, the Kern County Public Health Services Department issued a press release confirming the first flu-related deaths in Kern County. According to Dr. Claudia Jonah, Kern County’s Health officer, out of all the local hospitalized cases only one person had not received their flu shot.

“The peak of flu season is usually late January through February, so there’s still time to benefit from a flu vaccine,” said Jonah.

Flu shots are still available at the Health center on Mt. Vernon Ave. for only $9.

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