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First known Monterey County flu death of 2020 reported at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital

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SALINAS, Calif. (KION) A spokesperson for Salinas Valley Memorial Health System confirms that a patient at the hospital died of the flu.

The hospital got confirmation of the death last night, but could only say that it happened sometime since the start of 2020. It is currently the first known flu death of the year.

"Usually if you had a flu shot and you get the flu, the symptoms will be a 
lot less than if you didn't have the flu shot at all," said Marcy Klein, an SVMHS registered nurse.

According to the county health department, there have been three Monterey County flu deaths this season. The flu season runs from about September or October to about April or May.

"What we know is that there's been three deaths. And I can tell you that these deaths have all occurred among adults," said Dr. Edward Moreno, the public health director of Monterey County.

Between Sept. 29 and Dec. 28, there have been 54 flu deaths reported in California, according to State Influenza Surveillance. Because of reporting requirements, hat number is provisional and based on death certificates. SVMHS said it is impossible to have a definitive count on flu deaths for that reason.

State Influenza Surveillance said there are above expected levels of flu hospitalizations this year, and every county in the state is considered a region with elevated activity.

The health department suggests getting a flu shot, washing your hands often and staying home when sick to avoid getting or spreading the flu.

SVMHS is offering free flu shot clinics at least four times a year and will provide services in Salinas and surrounding areas through its Mobile Health Clinic starting next week.

"I worked in the ICU for 20 years and we would see people that are weakened, critically ill from the flu," said Klein.

"I want to be very clear that getting the flu vaccine does not cause influenza," said Dr. Moreno. "Getting the flu vaccine strengthens your immunity against the virus."

Symptoms include headaches, fever, aches and pains along with sore throats and coughing. Respiratory problems including pneumonia could also develop.

SVMHS medical staff are preparing to roll out their new mobile health clinic next week. One of their main objectives is to give out flu vaccines.

The county health department believes there are pockets of people who do not have the means of getting a flu shot. Doctors at SVMHS hope their new mobile health clinic will be able to meet that need in Salinas and in surrounding communities.

"I think that there's a lot of issues there. One of them may be financial, that they can't afford to get the vaccine. The other one is that they don't have 
access to be able to get to the vaccines," said SVMHS Mobile Health Clinic Medical Director Dr. Orlando Rodriguez. "Our mobile clinic will be attending places in Monterey County where it'll be much easier for them to have access."

The health department recommends everyone over the age of six months get a flu shot. You can get them at your doctor's office or places like CVS Pharmacy. SVMHS is not providing flu vaccines at the hospital.

Central Coast / Health / Monterey County / Top Stories

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

Josh Kristianto

Josh Kristianto is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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