What to Know
- The city has urged residents to get vaccinated.
- According to the city, there have been 119 flu-related deaths across the state this season.
- Details about the two who died have not yet been released, although both were cited as having underlying health conditions.
The Long Beach health department on Friday confirmed the city's first two flu-related deaths of the 2018-19 flu season, and again urged residents to get vaccinated.
Details about the people who died were not released, but officials said both had underlying health conditions.
"These deaths are a tragic reminder that flu can cause serious illness," Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said in a statement.
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Davis noted to NBC4 that certain pre-existing factors can drastically how someone reacts to contracting the flu. Very young children and people over the age of 65, for example, are more likely to have a severe reaction. Having diabetes or asthma can yield the same result.
Flu shots are still available for Long Beach residents looking to get vaccinated.
"It's not too late in the season to get the flu shot. Getting vaccinated is the safest and most effective way to prevent flu. The flu vaccine can prevent people from getting sick, or may lessen the severity of symptoms for those who become ill," her statement said.
Deaths in California from the flu have been relatively mild this season. There have been 151 influenza-related deaths across the state as of Jan. 26 - much less than the past two years, Davis said.
"Our flu season has been lighter this year," Davis told NBC4. "The activity and severity of it has been much less severe."
This could be because the predominate flu strain circulating this year - H1N1 - tends to be less severe than last season's strain - H3N3. The two strains are differentiated by the types of proteins on the surface of the virus. This probably only offers a partial explanation, however.
"Every flu season has its own characteristics," Davis said.