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SFDPH reports city's first flu death of season; urges vaccines

Health officials brace for post-Thanksgiving surge of viral respiratory diseases
Health officials brace for post-Thanksgiving surge of viral respiratory diseases 01:48

SAN FRANCISCO – Health officials in San Francisco announced the city's first influenza death of the season, urging residents to receive their annual flu shot as cases rise.

According to the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the person was under 65 years of age and died on November 30. The adult did not have a flu shot and had preexisting medical conditions.

Officials said the flu season started earlier than usual and is likely to be the first active flu season since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Cases of flu, along with COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have been increasing in the city, mirroring trends across the state and nation.

On Friday, SFDPH urged the public to get their flu shot.

"It is not too late to get your annual flu vaccine. It is the single best way to protect yourself and your family against the flu; preventing illness, severe illness and hospitalization," officials said.

Officials said those at highest risk for severe illness or hospitalization from the flu include young children, older adults, those who are pregnant, smokers or anyone with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

Along with the flu shot, SFDPH also urged residents to get their COVID-19 booster shot. While there is no vaccine for RSV, officials said being infected with more than one virus could increase the risk for severe disease.

Other tips suggested include staying home when sick, practicing good hygiene, masking in crowded indoor spaces, increased ventilation and stocking up on COVID-19 tests.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of Friday there have been an estimated 8.7 million illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths nationally from the flu so far this season.

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