As flu season declines across country, it just starting in California

10:03 PM, Jan 18, 2013   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - Joleen Abalos knows what's it's like to be knocked down by the flu.

"I was home sick for well over a week and wasn't able to move off the couch," Abalos said.

The concerned grandmother thought it was about time to protect her grandchildren from the flu and took them to get shots.

Lucas, did okay; Mia, not so much. It looks like the brother and sister got their vaccines just in time. As the rest of the country's flu outbreak is on the decline, it's just starting here.

The California Department of Public Health declared that the flu is now widespread, which means it's in over half the state, and it's the H3N2 strain, which causes a severe form of the illness.

"In years, when we have predominance in H3 strength, we tend to see more serious illness and more people being hospitalized," Public Health spokesperson Dr. Gil Chavez said. "Which really speaks to the importance of getting vaccinated."

Already, there've been five flu deaths in the state. Because the flu season hasn't peaked in California, doctors said it's not too late to get immunized.

"Because there is a good match between this year's flu shot and the circulating strain," UC Davis Epidemiologist Prof. Dean Blumberg said. "That doesn't occur every year. Its guess work to decide what to put in the vaccines. But it looks like a pretty good match this year."

So the mantra is keep your hands clean, don't touch your face and stay home if you're sick. For Abalos and her grandkids, precautions also include flu shots.

"For one thing, I'm older. There's the fear of being older and complications and death," Abalos said. "Also I want to be able to make sure I don't want to pass it on to my grandchildren."

By Nannette Miranda, ABC7

ABC7/KGO

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