"With the flu virus on the rise locally and throughout California, Berkeley Public Health advises residents to get a flu shot," the city said in an advisory this past week.
"The increase of influenza activity has followed normal seasonal patterns, and it is expected to increase substantially in the coming weeks and months."
The predominant strain is the H1N1 virus, sometimes referred to as swine flu, which can cause severe symptoms and even lead to death.
On Friday, the California Department of Public Health reported that the number of confirmed flu-related deaths in the state had jumped to 45, up from 7 just a week earlier. The state's most recent reporting period ended Jan. 11.
Also on Friday, Bay City News Service reported two more flu-related deaths in Santa Clara County, raising the Bay Area total to 23 as of Friday, Jan. 17. Only 14 of those were among the confirmed deaths from the region reported to the state Department of Public Heath by Jan. 11, according to Bay City News Service.
The City of Berkeley offered the following advice on who should get a flu shot, where to get one and what to do if you get the flu:
A yearly flu shot, which is recommended for everyone 6 months and older, is the most important step in preventing influenza. A flu shot is especially important for pregnant women and other people at higher risk for severe influenza.
Unlike other vaccine preventable diseases, it is necessary to get a flu shot every year. Once vaccinated, it takes approximately two weeks before you are fully protected against the flu.
If you become ill, you can take actions to stop the spread of germs, including:
• Stay home when you are sick
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sneeze into the inside of your elbow
• Wash your hands frequently with soap/water
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Residents of Berkeley who have health insurance (i.e. Kaiser, Med-Cal, Blue Cross Managed Care, etc.) should first check with their regular health care provider to receive the flu vaccine. Flu shots are also available at many pharmacies.
Flu shots are available at the City of Berkeley Public Health Clinic during the flu season, for community members 3 years of age and older (those between 6 months and 3 years of age needing a vaccination can call 981-5300 for help locating a source).
Berkeley Public Health Immunization Clinic at 830 University Avenue
Mondays: 9:00 - 11:00 AM & 1:00 - 4:00 PM
For more information, call the City of Berkeley Public Health Clinic at (510) 981-5350, or the Nurse of the Day at (510) 981-5300.