Health officials in Orange County Wednesday encouraged residents to get flu shots as this season has proven to be one of the worst in recent years.

There have been 931 cases of flu reported in the region so far this season, which is up from 281 in the same time frame for the 2015-16 flu season, according to Dr. Matthew Zahn of the Orange County Health Care Agency.

In the 2014-15 flu season, which was another difficult one, there were 922 cases reported as of the second week of January, according to Zahn. That was an uptick from 440 during the same time frame in the 2013-14 season and 230 in the 2012-13 season.

Some flu seasons start earlier than others, as has been the case in the current one, according to the HCA’s Jessica Good. That accounts for the increase compared with last year, she said.

Photo by James Gathany, courtesy CDC/ Judy Schmidt.

Even though the flu season is in full swing, it’s not too late to get a shot, Good said, noting that nine adults aged 18 to 64 and two children have experienced severe infections from the flu that required treatment in an intensive care unit.

“The rapid rise in reports of illness and hospitalization around the state makes it likely that this will be a severe flu season,” said Dr. Eric Handler, the county’s health officer. “The vaccine seems to match well with the virus we’re seeing, and it’s a quick and easy way for folks to protect themselves against severe complications from the flu.”

Flu symptoms typically include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue.

Vaccinations remain the best way to prevent catching flu, the experts said. The shots are recommended for everyone 6 months of age and up. Every Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the agency provides vaccinations at 1725 W. 17th St., Santa Ana.

–City News Service 

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