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AUBURN, Calif. December 7, 2020 – Placer County Public Health has been notified that a school-aged Placer County child recently died from complications of influenza, the first pediatric flu death in California this season. The child had underlying health conditions, which did not include COVID-19.

“While flu activity appears relatively low so far this year, this is a tragic reminder that it is not absent entirely and can on occasion be very serious,” said Interim Health Officer and Health and Human Services Director Dr. Rob Oldham. “We extend our condolences to the family, and remind everyone that it is not too late to get your flu shot.”

Influenza activity remains low across California and in Placer County, possibly in part due to the social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing interventions instituted to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Last year, 12 Placer County residents died of influenza, and 11 in the year prior.  

With hospital capacity a growing concern amid the pandemic, flu shots are of particular importance this year. A flu shot reduces the chances of getting flu or becoming seriously ill, which in turn helps reduce flu-related doctor’s visits and hospitalizations.

While flu vaccination is recommended annually for everyone 6 months and older, it is particularly important for young children, pregnant women, adults aged 65 and older and people with long-term health conditions.

It is also important to practice good health habits to limit the spread of influenza. People should stay home when sick; always cover coughs and sneezes; wash hands with soap and water; and avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth – all practices that, in addition to masking and physical distancing, can also help reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Influenza comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills, and fatigue. Symptoms of the flu can be similar to early symptoms of COVID-19, meaning that this year, people with flu symptoms may require a COVID-19 test and may need to stay home from work and isolate from their families while awaiting results. Providers may prescribe antiviral medications that reduce the severity and duration of illness. Antibiotics are not effective against the flu.

Most insurance plans, including Medi-Cal and Medicare, cover free flu vaccinations from your health care provider. Many pharmacies also offer no-cost or low-cost vaccines. To find a place to get a flu shot, visit vaccinefinder.org. For more information on influenza, please visit the CDC influenza website at cdc.gov/flu.