California health officials warn that flu is about to get worse

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California health officials are urging people to get flu shots straight away. They released the latest numbers and a warning that the viral infection is about to get worse. (KGO-TV)

California health officials are urging people to get flu shots straight away. They released the latest numbers and a warning that the viral infection is about to get worse.

The State Public Health Department says 27 Californians have died from the flu so far this season and there are signs that things are worsening.

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Flu-related visits to the doctor's office and hospitalizations have surpassed some of the most severe flu seasons on record, they say.

Of the 27 flu deaths in people under 65, four were in Santa Clara County.

Top state health officials held a conference call on Tuesday with reporters to raise awareness.

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"Influenza virus is mainly spread by tiny droplets that form when people cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets enter the mouths or noses of people who are nearby," state epidemiologist Dr. Gilberto Chavez said.

Although flu peaks between December and February, the virus can continue as late as May, which means it's not too late to get a shot.

Vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year. Experts say this year's may only be up to 30 percent effective, but some protection is better than nothing.

And if you do come down with the flu, the CDC tweeted that taking anti-viral drugs can mean the difference between a milder illness and a serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.

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