Flu virus reaches widespread levels in California

January 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The California Department of Public Health announced flu activity reached the widespread level in California this week. Five deaths are now attributed to the flu. The widespread level means there are reports of flu activity in most areas.

The widespread status comes earlier than normal, which could either indicate an early start to the flu season or a more severe flu season. The Deputy Director of the State's Center for Infectious Diseases said this year's vaccines protect against the most common flu strain being seen across the country and vaccines are still available.

In Fresno County, officials report only low levels of flu activity thus far. "There's some activity but it's nothing unusual. So this is what we call a nice 'heads up'. Get the vaccine, take time to get vaccinated. It takes 10-14 days to get full protection, so get the vaccinations before we start seeing that significant increase in our community," said David Luchini with the Fresno County Department of Public Health.

State health officials did acknowledge spotty shortages of the vaccine at some pharmacies and clinics across the state but said in many cases, it's just a matter of ordering more vaccine.