Health officials recommend getting flu shot early following 1st flu-related death in Riverside County

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. (KABC) -- Flu season is just around the corner but health officials are recommending that folks go in for their annual flu shot following the first pediatric flu-related death of the season in Riverside County.

The season typically starts in October.

"It's a little early but I still think they should consider flu shots, and particularly if the area is being recognized for some flu activities," said Dr. Victor Water, Chief Medical Officer at St Bernardine Medical Center.

Riverside resident Natalie Gomez heeded the warning. She said she's received the shot for the past three years.

Others, however, don't see the need.

"If I had a weakness or something like that, or if I was prone to lung infections or developing pneumonia or bronchitis, I might consider that but my health is pretty good so I don't want to take the risk," Augustine Amerigo said.

A 4-year-old Perris boy who tested positive for the flu had underlying health issues, health officials said. Additional information on the child's health issues and circumstances surrounding the death were not released.

There were nine flu-associated deaths during the 2018-2019 season, and 23 during 2017-2018, according to the Riverside University Health System Public Health.

Medical professionals, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say the flu vaccine is safe.

"When you weigh the benefit and the risk, it's far more beneficial to take a vaccine," Waters said.

The flu is highly contagious and if you do get sick, doctors recommend staying home, getting plenty of rest and drinking plenty of fluids.
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